Synergy Baby Name XI

With the list of top baby names in England and Wales being released yesterday, we thought we’d take a look to see whether or not UK parents are choosing to flatter their favourite football stars by immortalising them in classroom registers for the next generation to come. Spoiler: there were no Heskeys…

To demonstrate growth in influence of a certain footballer, we’ve compared the findings against the 1996 census to see whether or not we can attribute the rise in a certain name against the success of the player in question.

On to the lineup:

Strikers

With 12 sets of parents choosing to name their child either ‘Neymar’ or ‘Messi’, it’s clear the former Barcelona attacking duo have turned the heads of elite soccer Mums and Dads hoping to bump their child up the playground pecking order. Should little ‘Neymar’ continue to be eclipsed by classmate, however, we have no doubt the nearby private school will be ready and waiting with a lucrative scholarship package.

Midfield

A near tripling in the number of boys named ‘Eden’ sees the Belgian playmaker make the team-sheet on the left flank with baby ‘Zinedine’, a hairless homage to the Madrid manager, taking the right with 11 namesakes. We’ve plumped for a risky pairing of ‘Cristiano’ and ‘Ronaldo’ in the middle of the park and will have to hope they are brought up with good manners, namely sharing the ball.

Defence

It’s an all Beckham backline as Father David’s influence over pop culture continues to reign supreme. In giving ‘Harper’ a start we’ve gone for youth over experience, however if her unrivalled stats of 1,256 copycats (now the 44th most popular girls’ name) are anything to go by, she looks set to be a solid investment for years to come.

Goalkeeper

Not strictly linked to a footballer. Well, not in any way linked to a footballer. But in terms of making the box an area of fire and fury to ward off even the most fearsome of opposition, little Khaleesi, storm-born to 69 parents in 2016, will bring a touch of the unexpected to our starting XI. Jon Snow seems to think she’s a keeper at least…

While we’ve stuck well within the football - and fictional dragon-queen - sphere, the power of celebrity and pop culture to infiltrate such an influential decision stretches well beyond our pitch-based parameters. Star of Luther and top British acting talent Idris Elba, for example, is set to share his name with 247 more individuals this year, marking an eightfold rise over the decade.Whatever the reason for parents choosing to mimic influencers in such a way – to set up their children for perceived future success, honour an individual or achievement or simply from an affinity to the name – the rise in unique names recorded in the past ten years (5k to 7.5k for girls and 3.7k to 6.2k for boys) demonstrates a clear willingness to move away from the traditional, with new entrants ‘Daenarys’ (4), ‘Arya’ (302) and ‘Luna’ (715) bridging the gap between fictional and mainstream. With the ways in which we consume sport and entertainment multiplying year on year, expect to see this trend continue throughout the decade.

Who knows, we may even have our first baby ‘PewDiePie’ by 2026.

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