One of the UK’s most unpopular baby names could be about to make a comeback – thanks to England’s World Cup success.
‘Gareth’ was ranked 117 in the popularity charts in 1996 – the year England reached the semi-finals of the European Championships.
But following Gareth Southgate’s infamous penalty blunder which saw them miss out on a place in the final, it had plunged to 1,903 by 2016, with just a handful of tots given the name each year.
However, the England manager’s success so far has seen 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 are now considering a footie name for their baby.
And another 55 per cent would 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 will be more baby Kanes, while 48 per cent think you will meet more Jesses in the playground.
Hero goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is also predicted to save his name’s popularity.
Currently it has dropped to 219 in the baby name charts, down from 11 in 2016 – but 41 per cent of parents believe it will make a comeback now.
Among the more unusual names being considered by parents following the World Cup are Dele, with 18 per cent claiming it will be a popular choice – although so few children are currently called it that it is unranked in the name charts.
A further 21 per cent back Fabian, while a quarter rate the name Lion as roaring success.
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.
WAG queen Rebekah Vardy’s name is also on the rise with a third expecting it to climb the name charts.
However, the biggest loser in the football name tournament is Wayne.
A whopping 75 per cent of parents polled said the name had become far less popular due to Wayne Rooney.
A further 11 per cent dropped David due to David Beckham, while 14 per cent also shunned Steven, due to Steven Gerrard.
But despite the success of the team, a third of parents say they would never consider any form of football name, even if England lift the World Cup.
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 names 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.”
TOP FOOTIE NAMES
Harry – 83%
Kane – 77%
Gareth – 65%
Jesse – 48%
Jordan – 41%
Ashley – 32%
Kieran – 31%
Marcus – 30%
Kyle – 29%
Jamie – 27%
Lion – 25%
Fabian – 21%
Dele – 18%
Raheem – 11%
John – 6%
TOP WAG NAMES
Megan – 54%
Millie – 49%
Ruby-Mae – 44%
Fern – 42%
Paige – 43%
Annabel – 40%
Rebekah – 33%
Annie – 21%
Katie – 19%