Some Barça players have their surnames on their shirts, but others do not / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

The official names of the members of the current FC Barcelona squad include several examples of the peculiarities of naming conventions in Latin countries. To the outsider, it can sometimes be a little confusing, so here at we decided to shed some light on the matter.

First name terms

The crux of the problem is that in Anglo-Saxon nations, the norm is for players to be identified by their surnames, as is also the case with most members of the Barça squad (Leo Messi, Andrés Iniesta or Claudio Bravo, for example).

It would seem very odd in a country like the UK or the US for a footballer to have their first name, such as ‘Peter’, ‘John’ or ‘Gary’, written on the back of their shirt. But that is not the case in the Catalan, Spanish or Portuguese speaking worlds. In the current Barça squad there are several examples of this: Adriano Correia, Pedro Rodríquez, Douglas Pereira dos Santos, Sergio Busquets and Neymar da Silva Santos (Neymar being the Brazilian’s first name, not his surname).

It would be even stranger for an English player to use a diminutive form of their name, say ‘Bob’, ‘Mickey’ or ‘Dick’. But that is quite acceptable in other football cultures, especially Brazil, and at Barça we have an example of this in the form of Rafinha, whose full name is Rafael Alcântara do Nascimento. And Xavi Hernández’s name is short for Xavier (incidentally, if you’re still unsure of the correct pronunciation, it’s something like chabby).

Some players go even further and prefer to be known by their nicknames, and in the Barça B squad we currently have the peculiar case of Javier Fernández Abruñedo, who goes by the name of Bicho, meaning ‘bug’!

We’ve also got Jordi Alba and Dani Alves, who have both their first names and surnames on their shirts! Ultimately, it all comes down to individual choice.

Proper names

And so to first team manager Luis Enrique. This is a name that has caused particular confusion, leading to the misconception that his first name is ‘Luis’ and his surname is ‘Enrique’. That’s not actually correct.

Born on 8 May 1970 in Gijón, Asturias on the north coast of Spain, his full name is Luis Enrique Martínez García. Following the fashion in Spain, he officially has two surnames: the paternal (Martínez) and the maternal (García), although it is fairly common practice for only the former to be used, as in Anglo-Saxon naming customs. And that is the Barça manager’s surname: Martínez.

'Luis' and 'Enrique' are both first names (‘Lewis’ and ‘Henry’ in English) and the FCB coach uses both together, rather like ‘Jean Paul’ or ‘Marie Claire’ in French. Referring to him as ‘Enrique’, as if that was his surname, is akin to using ‘Claude’ to describe actor Jean Claude Van Damme, ‘Jean’ to refer to former tennis champion Billie Jean King, or indeed ‘Maria’ for Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

It might seem that Sergi Roberto is an example of the same thing, but he isn’t. Roberto is one of the midfielder’s surnames, the other being the Catalan word for ‘butcher’, Carnicer.