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Dec 25, 2012

Festive footballers

'Tis the season to be festive, so we've put together our selection of the players whose names ensure Christmas is pitch perfect.

Andy Carroll

Forever associated with seasonal headlines, "Christmas" Carroll has proved to be an expensive gift. This year, Carroll has also had little to sing about, with allegations he attacked a Sun photographer while out for West Ham's Christmas party.

Antonio Di Natale

A glorious advert for the season, Udinese legend Di Natale's name translates as "Antonio of Christmas", and he has always battled to ensure "Regali Di Natale" - or Christmas gifts - are bestowed upon the fans.

Claus Jensen

Former Denmark international Jensen boasts one of the most Christmassy names in the game, and is keen to promote festive fun. When Fulham released a video to say Merry Christmas to their fans during the 2005-06 season, "Santa" Claus made an appearance at the end to offer the season's greetings.

Edinho

A Brazil international who featured at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, centre-back Edinho's full name - Edino Nazareth Filho - reveals his Christmas connection.

Gifton Noel-Williams

Boasting a doubly festive name, Noel-Williams became a cult figure when, in 2007, he headed for Spain, where Santa is known as "Papá Noel". After leaving Real Murcia for Elche later in the year, he was memorably presented with a T-shirt by a supporter that read: "I believe in Noel-Williams."

Jesus Navas

With a Christian name based on the man who sparked the whole Navidad tradition, Spain winger Navas regularly likes to present on-field regalos - or gifts - for his team-mates. El Pais featured Navas, along with several other World Cup stars, on the cover of a Christmas supplement in 2010.

Jose Antonio Reyes

In Spain, most kids get their presents not from "Papá Noel" but from "Los Tres Reyes" - The Three Kings - on January 6.

Reyes' homecoming at Sevilla on January 5 last year was particularly festive, with the player's arrival at the Santa Justa train station timed to coincide with the annual three kings procession through Seville city centre. Unfortunately for all concerned, Reyes does not appear to boast as many gifts as he did in his heyday.

Miguel Angel Nadal

The former Barcelona defender known as "The Beast" offers up a festive double: as well as providing the 'Angel' for the XI, "Nadal" is the Catalan term for Christmas.

Roque Santa Cruz

When Paraguay international Santa Cruz left Bayern Munich for Blackburn in 2007, it meant he had to give up on his annual festive homecoming.

"When I was at Bayern Munich there was always a winter break, so I could go back to Paraguay to be with my family," he told The Sun in 2007, while agreeing to dress up as his namesake. "With me having to play for Blackburn over Christmas, we are having everybody come over here this year."

Family is the key for Santa Cruz, who is not a fan of ostentatious gifts. "If you drive whatever car for £50,000, you will get a luxurious car," he told The Independent in 2011. "There is probably no need to have a £200,000 car. I really love cars but I wouldn't buy a car for £200,000. I don't like 'big' things."

Scott Wiseman

Barnsley right-back Wiseman finds himself bearing gifts as one of the Biblical Magi for our selection, although - as he revealed on his Twitter account in November - he keeps his feelings firmly confined to festive season. "Strong united front against Christmas in November," he tweeted last month.

Wenceslas Mapagha

While a career spent in Gabon, Tunisia and the French lower leagues is unlikely to propel a player to stardom, Gabon international Mapagha justifies his selection among the exalted company of the festive XI through his connection to "Good King Wenceslas", one of the season's most celebrated carols.

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