Are you a professional footballer? Are you thinking about getting an exotic-looking tattoo in Japanese or Chinese script? With this year’s World Cup players the most inked in history, it’s no wonder the players keep taking their shirts off to show off their skin. Today, we bring you a guide to getting inked as a World Cup footballer – or to be more accurate, a guide to what not to do.

Greek footballer Theofanis “Fanis” Gekas, who has been attracting online attention in Japan recently for his unusual Chinese(ish) tattoo, isn’t the only World Cup player with some not-entirely-accurate ink on his arms. Join us after the jump for photographic evidence of what your mother (should’ve) told you: “If you can’t read it, don’t get it permanently etched onto your skin.”

1) Get your own name in kanji

“Can you write my name in Chinese characters?” That’d be cool, right? Lots of people are interested to know how their name looks in a different language. The problem with “your name” in Chinese (or Japanese) is that these characters have meaning – sometimes, loads of different meanings – as well as sound.

So if you do what Italian player Antonio Cassano did, and get 安東尼奥 inked on you, sure, it can be read An-tou-ni-ou in Japanese (especially if you knew his name to begin with), but it also means “cheap-Eastern-nun-interior,” which is probably not something you’d want on you if it was in your own language.

▼ Sorry, make that “cheap Eastern nun interior dolphin.”

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2) Get it done sideways

“OK then,” I hear you say. “I’ll use katakana. That’s for foreign names, right?” Not a bad idea, my footballing friend! In Japan, non-Japanese people’s names are written in katakana, that blocky-looking angular script that pops up in manga so often.

Just make sure you get the direction of the letters right. Belgian national (and Chelsea midfielder) Eden Hazard has his son’s name Yannis (ジャンニス, “jannisu”) inked on his torso. Apart from the fact it looks a bit like ジャニーズ (Johnny’s), the colossal Japanese idol talent agency, Hazard’s tattoo is written sideways. Not vertically. Sideways.


Y’see, when Japanese is written vertically, the orientation of the characters should stay the same. Allow me to demonstrate.

▼ Could this stunning tattoo design be Mr. Sato‘s next adventure?

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3) Translate it from another language

“I’ll just take a favourite phrase of mine, and get it translated! What could possibly go wrong?” Well, you could end up like Gekas, who apparently wanted his nickname “cool killer” (or “cold-blooded killer”) written in Chinese characters, although in fact he’s ended up with 寒冷殺人魔 , which gives us something like “chilly killer devil”.

Remember: If it sounds good in the original language, it will probably sound slightly less impressive once translated.

Bqh847ZCQAA92GI.jpg_large@bourbonne_campy via Twitter

4) Get something no one understands, including people whose language it is

Columbian Fredy Guarín has the befuddling 丹尼宗 on his arm, which makes about as much sense in Chinese as it does in Japanese. Or French. Or Martian. We wondered if this might be a case of the gibberish Asian font propagated by irresponsible tattoo shops, but it doesn’t even match that either.

Maybe it has some secret significance for Guarín. Let’s hope so, and that he doesn’t just have characters that mean red-nun-religious sect tattooed on his arm for no reason.


5) Get it done when you’re still a child

Ghanaian Kevin-Prince Boateng, who has five words – 家族 (family), 健康 (health), 愛 (love), 成功 (success), and 信任 (trust) – on his right side, explains that he got it done when he was 16. When asked the reasoning behind the lettering, Boateng said simply that at the time, he liked Chinese characters.

He does have a bunch of other tattoos that are pretty cool, including a spider’s web on one knee referencing a persistent injury. It’d be wise to have given some consideration to font, though. Personally, I think Boateng’s tattoo looks like it’s been written in the artistic equivalent of Times New Roman.

▼ Best (least awful) kanji tattoo we’ve seen all day!


Think before you ink, guys!

Source: Naver Matome
Top image: football-lovers, edited by RocketNews24.  Other images: RocketNews24 unless otherwise stated.