The 15 worst statues in football ranked

  • Rob Swan

For football clubs wanting to pay tribute to a legendary player or manager, a statue is often the preferred choice.

There have been some decent statues down the years. Sir Matt Busby and the Holy Trinity outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford both spring to mind, as do the statues of Arsenal legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams outside the Emirates Stadium.

However, the number of bad football statues significantly outweigh the good ones.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the latest footballer to have a statue unveiled this week.

“When you come to New York you have the Statue of Liberty,” he said at the unveiling in Malmo, “when you come to Sweden you have the Statue of Zlatan.”

However, it still makes our list for the worst statues in football – albeit it’s not quite as bad as some of the others we’re about to show you.

15. Lionel Messi

This statue of Messi in Buenos Aires wasn’t actually too bad to begin with – but vandals couldn’t resist destroying it.

They cut it just above the ankles…

And then cut it again around the shorts…

A sorry sight indeed.

14. Radamel Falcao

If you weren’t told this was Radamel Falcao prior to seeing you, you never would have guessed – despite the trademark celebration.

The 19-foot monument in Santa Clara, Colombia, bears no resemblance to the star striker.

13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Fair play to the sculpture for getting Zlatan’s face pretty much spot on, but it’s still a pretty terrifying 8ft 9in statue.

It looks like the Slender Man, for crying out loud. You wouldn’t want to walk past it at night.

12. Michael Jackson

Putting a statue of Michael Jackson outside a football stadium isn’t a great look, but Fulham chairman Mohammed Al Fayed did not give a single damn.

“Bizarre? Why is it bizarre? Football fans love it,” he told reporters in 2011 amid criticism of the statue. “If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift they can go to hell.

“I don’t want them to be fans. If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else.

“People will queue to come and visit it from all over the UK and it is something that I and everybody else should be proud of.”

It was later and removed and placed in the National Football Museum, who then removed it themselves earlier this year.

11. Carlos Valderrama

The designer of this statue needed to pay homage to Valderrama’s most recognisable feature – the hair, obviously – but it just looks a bit weird.

Also, what’s he doing with his hands? It’s just bizarre.

10. Luis Suarez

You can tell this is Luis Suarez straight away, which is the sign of a half-decent statue, but it’s still very unflattering for the Barcelona striker.

The statue’s sculptor, Alberto Morales Saravia, admitted he’d never met Suarez and was working from photos he found of the Uruguayan forward on the internet.

9. Diego Maradona

Not sure if Diego Maradona or Mrs Brown’s Boys.

8. Cristiano Ronaldo

This would have been a half-decent statue… if it wasn’t for the absurd bulge in Ronaldo’s shorts.

Cristiano wasn’t complaining.

7. Gareth Bale

The man who did the infamous Ronaldo statue (not the previous one, a different one higher up this list of disgraceful statues) also made one of Gareth Bale in 2017.

Emanuel Santos did a similarly bad job with Bale, who must have been mortified when heard which sculptor was designing a statue for him.

The statue is worth a reported £25,000 and weighs 40kg. We wouldn’t even pay a fiver for it.

6. Ted Bates

Ted Bates devoted 50 years to Southampton Football Club before his death in 2003 – and this is how he was commemorated.

The £102,000 statue was removed less than a week after it was unveiled following a wave of criticism from angry Saints fans.

“I’m a Saints fan myself and all I wanted to do was to create a great statue for a great man,” sculptor Ian Brennan said after the decision was taken to remove it from St Mary’s. “I wanted a brilliant sculpture of Ted.”

Oh, Ian.

5. David Beckham (prank)

One of the funnest videos of the year, David Beckham was understandably horrified when he turned up to catch a glimpse of his new statue in Los Angeles and this monstrosity was revealed.

An incredible prank.

4. Lionel Messi (again)

What the hell is that?

If you have nightmares about this tonight, we can only apologise.

3. Michael Essien

This is awful. Just awful.

The life-size statue of Michael Essien was unveiled in Kumasi, Southern Ghana, a couple of years ago and the former Chelsea midfielder must have wondered what he’s done to the sculptor to deserve such a ‘tribute’.

2. Mohamed Salah


Why are his arms so small? What’s with the expression on his face? Why does it look like a cross between Leo Sayer and Marv from Home Alone?

The worst football statue ever made… with the exception of the GOAT (or should that be WOAT?).

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (again)

This statue will never not be hilarious to look at.

Ronaldo must have died inside when he first saw it. It’s genius.

Sculptor Emanuel Santos said his work was just “a matter of taste” but we’re yet to hear of a single person on the planet who thought the statue was a good representation of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Ronaldo’s family soon appealed for the statue, which was on display at Madeira airport, to be replaced – and, unfortunately, it was.

This statue will always occupy a special place in all of our hearts.

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