For a pastime that bills itself as the beautiful game, football sure does produce peerlessly ugly statues. This week we learnt that Swedish soccer’s titan of immodesty, Zlatan Ibrahimović, is to get the bronze treatment in his hometown of Malmö. So what should we expect? Well, if you look to Zlatan’s rival in the pedigree footballer vanity showcase, Cristiano Ronaldo, disappointment awaits. Who can forget the bust of Portugal’s finest that was revealed in Madeira in 2017? So offensive to the eyes was this monstrous maquette, his head looking like a cake left in the rain, that it was rapidly replaced by a more classical piece that would have looked more at home on the east pediment of the Parthenon.
Meanwhile, David Beckham was cast for posterity in Los Angeles; that turned out more superannuated Clark Kent than Superman. George Best didn’t fare much better earlier this year when his “likeness” was revealed in Belfast – fortunately for him, he wasn’t alive to see it. And a statue of Diego Maradona revealed in India in 2017 depicted him with a bouffant more befitting of an octagenarian grandma after a trip to the salon.
It seems that the bigger the footballing talent (and ego), the harder it is to capture in statuary. All eyes on Malmö next month then; just don't expect to like – or even recognise – what’s unveiled.