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Language abilities of footballers

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SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 1 of 67
30 May 2008 at 4:34am | IP Logged 
I came to think of the language ablities of professional football player yesterday when whatching some Youtube videos.
Take, for example this on, of Boudewijn Zenden:

Though I don't claim to be an expert, but his pronunciation certainly seems above average. When the video was posted he had been in Marseille for a few months.
It seems to me that these men are in a perfect position of acquiring languages. They move around between several countrys, playing a few years for evey club, giving them the opportunity to imerse themselfs in the environment. They have a solid group of peers to practise among, whom they meet with every day.

An, example icelandic Hjálmar Jónsson playing for IFK Göteborg(Gothenburg):
Speaks a very natural and relaxed language in a Gothenburg accent.

Another name that springs to mind is the swedish former midfielder Stefan Schwarz. He was native in Swedish and German and also spoke English, Spanish, Portuguese and possibly some more. Could not finf any videos of him, though, unfortunatly.

So, what do you guys think? Have you got the impression that the european football leuages fosters polyglots to some degree? Do you have some examples of someone who has moved around in a lot of countries acquiring the languages of their stay, to a high level (and with good pronuciation)?

Edited by laiwai on 30 May 2008 at 4:44am

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Quadrilingual Heptaglot
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 Message 2 of 67
30 May 2008 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
Bof... Spanish-Portuguese, Icelandic-Swedish, German-English are rather close... I bet it's far rarer to see Latvian-Thai or Spanish-Korean!

But seriously, as a huge MotoGP and Formula One fan, I too have noticed that these athletes tend to be AT LEAST bilingual, with trilingualism being quite common. I suspect that for footballers, it should be the same if they play at a higher level.
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 Message 3 of 67
31 May 2008 at 1:34am | IP Logged 
Makrasiroutioun wrote:
I bet it's far rarer to see Latvian-Thai or Spanish-Korean!

It could be rare, but in fact I was sitting next to a couple of Korean girls at a Spanish restaurant last year in Seoul. They were speaking to each other in Spanish, with random Korean adjectives thrown in. I also met a bilingual guy last year who majored in Spanish. Perhaps it's a rare combination, Spanish-Korean, in many countries, but in Korea it doesn't seem all that improbable.
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SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 4 of 67
31 May 2008 at 12:02pm | IP Logged 
I watched the clip with Hjalmar Jonsson and found his accent quite convincing. It may not be that sports are particularly good for fostering polyglots, but at any rate it is a very good example of immersion, considering all this talk about enjoying oneself and socializing with natives. A long time ago (the summer of -94, in fact) I saw some soccer player on TV whose Spanish would fool me any day. His name and origin now escape me.
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 Message 5 of 67
08 June 2008 at 4:06am | IP Logged 
According to wikipedia Guus Hiddink speaks Dutch, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, basic Italian and is learning Russian. Any clue about how fluent he is in the Oriental ones? :)
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William Camden
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 Message 6 of 67
08 June 2008 at 10:00am | IP Logged 
I don't know about any of these people, but quite a few foreign players for clubs in Turkey speak Turkish, level ranging from getting by to very good indeed.
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 Message 7 of 67
08 June 2008 at 6:25pm | IP Logged 
Here's a nice clip of USA's Michael Bradley who plays for Heerenveen in the Dutch League:
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 Message 8 of 67
13 June 2008 at 7:25am | IP Logged 
Leo Beenhaker, the current Poland football manager, is reported to be fluent in Dutch (native), English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. He is now learning Polish at an impressively rapid rate. These people move country every few years and have to pick up the new language to function.

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