One of the UK’s most unpopular baby names could be about to make a comeback – thanks to the man behind England’s World Cup squad.
‘Gareth’ was ranked 117 in the popularity charts in 1996 – the year England reached the semi-finals of the European Championships.
But following Southgate’s infamous penalty blunder which saw them miss out on a place in the final, it plunged to 1,903 by 2016, with just a handful of tots given the name each year.
However, the England manager has obviously impressed parents-to-be, as there’s been a sharp revival in interest in the name, with almost two thirds (65 per cent) of parents believing it will make a comeback thanks to the World Cup.
Fittingly, the Welsh name means ‘gentle’ and was first made popular by a legendary ‘brave and modest’ knight in King Arthur’s court.
The study, by ChannelMum.com, found around one in 14 children currently have a football-inspired name – but 84 per cent of parents think more babies will now be given a moniker based on the Three Lions’ players.
More than one in 10 of the parents polled, who are currently expecting, even admitted they’re now considering a footie name for their baby.
Another 55 per cent said they’d choose a football-themed name if they liked it.
Harry is considered the name most likely to see an uplift, with 83 per cent of the 1,198 parents polled expecting to see it surge in popularity.
A further 77 per cent reckon there’ll be more baby Kanes, while 48 per cent think you’ll meet more Jesses in the playground.
Among the more unusual names being considered by parents following the World Cup are Dele, with 18 per cent claiming it’ll be a popular choice – although so few children are currently called it, it’s unranked in the name charts.
Around a quarter of those polled also think Lion could be a popular choice for a name.
ChannelMum.com baby names expert SJ Ljungstorm said:
Picking a football-inspired moniker used to be considered a baby names own-goal, but the World Cup could change all that.
With the manager and team acting with grace and dignity, the name choices now seem fresh and modern rather than a little tacky.
With Southgate’s growing cult appeal, Gareth could become a popular choice which cuts across class and UK regions, while Harry and Jesse are already on the up, and watch out for Kane to make a comeback too.
Girls could also be given a football-inspired named thanks to the WAGS supporting the team in Russia.
Jordan Pickford’s girlfriend Megan Davison is the top choice with 54 per cent of parents considering it.
Millie Savage, partner of John Stones, is also a modern pick, loved by 49 per cent of parents.
While Ruby-Mae, Dele Alli’s model girlfriend is expected to be popular by 44 per cent of mums and dads.
The boys names to come out on top were:
Harry – 83 per cent
Kane – 77 per cent
Gareth – 65 per cent
Jesse – 48 per cent
Jordan – 41 per cent
While the top girls names were:
Megan – 54 per cent
Millie – 49 per cent
Ruby-Mae – 44 per cent
Fern – 42 per cent
Paige – 43 per cent
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.