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HomeSportsMemphis Depay's name, explained: How turbulent childhood influenced Dutch star's moniker, celebration

Memphis Depay’s name, explained: How turbulent childhood influenced Dutch star’s moniker, celebration

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The Oranje had Americans feeling blue in the Round of 16. The Louis van Gaal-helmed side were unplayable at times, mystifying the U.S. backline with a series of deft passes and delicate flicks.

No move summed up Netherlands’ pursuit of Total Football more than their first strike, a sweeping 20-pass sequence that saw every member of the Dutch side touch the ball.

Denzel Dumfries’ pinpoint cutback found the right foot of Memphis Depay, who proceeded to lash a controlled strike into the bottom corner of the net.

It was an artistic expression of footballing brilliance, the sort of move for which the Dutch have come to be known. Depay played the role of finisher, following in the footsteps of past Oranje bagsmen like Robin van Persie, Dennis Bergkamp and Marco van Basten, among others.

Depay, Netherlands’ No.10, has long been one of world football’s most alluring talents. Tabbed for greatness as a youngster, his journey from Old Trafford castoff to Barcelona star has been much discussed.

Now, he is shining for his country at least. And he does it all under an iconic one-word moniker, one inspired by some of the trials and tribulations he dealt with as a youth.

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Here’s what you need to know about Memphis Depay’s name.

Memphis Depay’s name, explained

Unlike most Dutch players, Depay sports a one-word sobriquet. His jersey is emblazoned with his first name rather than his last, a choice he made back in 2012.

Memphis doesn’t have much to do with his father, who left the family when he was a toddler (Dennis Depay later claimed to The Sun: “He was not abandoned by me. I was always there for him.”). He wears “Memphis” as a way to symbolize that strained relationship.

“I will never forgive him,” Memphis previously told the BBC. “Do not call me Depay, call me Memphis.”

The 28-year old found life difficult in his hometown Moordrecht as a youth, dabbling in substances as a 12-year old after suffering regular beatings from kids who lived with him.

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Depay overcame his adolescent struggles, becoming the crown jewel in the Dutch footballing pyramid by the time he turned 20. A move to Manchester United followed, although he didn’t quite reach the heights he had hoped for at Old Trafford.

He’s since thrived in a free role, picking up the pieces to his career at Lyon and earning a move to Camp Nou in the summer of 2021. At 28, Depay now serves as the fulcrum of the Dutch team, a player so important to Van Gaal’s project that he was rushed back from injury to link up with the Oranje in Qatar. Early impressions are that Van Gaal made the right choice.

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Memphis Depay celebration

On the (regular) occasion that Depay finds the back of the net, he tends to go with a rather curious gesture: he brings his fingers to his ears and closes his eyes.

Depay’s celebration stems from his turbulent past. It’s a way to block out all the noise and distractions that comes with being a top footballer. It’s all about focus.

Van Gaal and company will be hoping to see those antics a few more times before this year’s World Cup is all said and done.


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