From goal-scoring legend Sir Stanley Matthews at Stoke, to Michael Jackson at Fulham, football grounds across the country have become the hotspot for all sorts of statues. But why have football clubs started this trend?
Many believe statues are an incredible honor for footballers to be immortalized in the form of statues outside the clubs they have represented.
Former fine arts and sculptor teacher Stephanie Robertson believe statues are a fantastic way to commemorate someone’s career. “Personally, I think it’s the best way to recognize someone for what they have done for a football club. The only reason statues are put there in the first place is for the football club to pay their thanks for what they have done for the club”.
For fans all over the country, the argument of which players should be cast in bronze and which should not is a never-ending one. Up there with the ‘Who is better, Messi or Ronaldo?’ debate, the criteria for becoming immortalized in statue form is a matter of opinion. Some fans would point at the goals scored by a player for their club, others may look at the loyalty they provided for that club.
Someone who has most recently been granted with a statue outside their club’s stadium for their achievements is former Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The former Foxes owner unfortunately died in a helicopter crash in October 2018, and Leicester deemed it necessary to pay tribute for what he had done for the club by having a permanent statue of him outside the King Power Stadium.
The late Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will be immortalised at King Power Stadium through the commissioning of a memorial statue.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 9, 2018
Angela White, who has been a Leicester supporter since the 1970’s, is over the moon that her club has provided their late owner with a statue rather than something more materialistic.
“A statue is most certainly the best way to commemorate Khun Vichai’s achievements at the club” said White. “I’m glad it’s nothing like changing the stadiums name or naming a stand after him, he deserves more than that.
“A statue allows fans for years and years to come to visit him, pay their respects and have photos that will last a lifetime, much like his legacy.”
Leicester City have confirmed the club will commission a memorial statue in tribute to their late owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
— Goal (@goal) November 9, 2018
Another reason for statues being such a regular occurrence at football grounds is emotional and nostalgic attachment. Nostalgic feelings help to draw fans back to the stadium. Most obviously, this is for a great team or past player, but also to recreate happy moments in supporters’ childhoods, and for a time when footballers were identified as heroes rather than celebrities.
However, whilst some footballers are captured in all their glory, some statues have certainly missed the mark. Most recently, a statue was unveiled at Madeira Airport of Cristiano Ronaldo. For someone who cares a lot about their appearance, Ronaldo must have been bemused upon setting eyes on the unfamiliar bronze lookalike.
The likeliness is uncanny but not everyone was taken with it. However, I’m sure Niall Quinn will be ecstatic with the outcome.
I honestly cannot get over how much Ronaldo's statue looks like Niall Quinn 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/C84G7CAWIi
— Sway (@Swayam_93) March 29, 2017
However Ronaldo isn’t the only high-profile footballer having had to take the honour of being replicated with a pinch of salt after seeing the final products, with too many likenesses failing to capture the essence of their subjects.
Here are the Top 5 worst recreations of modern day football statues…
Within the East Midlands, all of the top clubs have a statue either outside their ground or within their city. Both Nottingham and Derby have statues of former manager Brian Clough situated either outside of their respective grounds or within the City Centre.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have Billy Wright, Aston Villa have William McGregor and Coventry City have Jimmy Hill.
Wanting to find out more about one of the East Midlands’ most notorious statues, I travelled to the Ricoh Arena to speak to Coventry City historian Jim Brown on what makes that statue so great.
From the good, to the bad, to the damn right outrageous, statues within football have engraved themselves into the modern game. Whether it be for achievements within football or to remember someone’s life, statues are and will remain the most sentimental ways to commemorate a career.
They reflect certain values, priorities, motives, feelings. Somethings are simply incapable of replicating what a statue can.