With so many sports’ heroes elevated to god-like status, it’s not surprising that the globe is peppered with statues, in various sizes, materials and colour, replicating these goal-scoring, team-dominating professionals. However, art being the subjective medium that it is, doesn’t always hit the mark in capturing the spirit of the individual – or even the likeness of the intended hero. Here are 5 tributes to sports’ heroes that went so wrong.

Tribute disasters

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Possibly made even more humorous by the fact that the Portuguese superstar is very committed to his looks, Cristiana Ronaldo boasts one of the worst tributes yet. Crafted to honour the four-time footballer of the year is a bronze bust commemorating the naming of an airport after him at his home of Madeira – Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo. However, it turned out more like an ode to Sloth from 1980s film, The Goonies, prompting the hashtag #RonaldoBust. The sculptor, Emanuel Santos, has defended the artwork saying that ‘It is impossible to please the Greeks and Trojans’, although judging from the mockery on social media, this piece pleased a lot of people. Just for the wrong reason.

Ronaldo statue

2. David Beckham

In 2012, an H&M campaign saw David ‘Goldenballs’ Beckham turn silver, sporting a pair of the store’s underwear range, rather than his more identifiable football jersey. New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco were treated to the massive statue which placed customers, unfortunately, eye-level with said underwear – the perfect opportunity for some creative selfies.

David Beckham statue

3. Andy Murray

A sportsman who looks fairly uncomfortable at the best of times, Scottish tennis legend, Andy Murray, looked like he wanted to be teleported away from Shanghai in 2011 as the terracotta statue of himself was unveiled. As is tradition at China’s Shanghai Rolex Masters, the champions are awarded the terracotta statue which, in Murray’s case, looked more like a scowling Revolutionary War hero.

andy murray statue

4. Wayne Gretzky

The Great One, ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, looks more like a pilgrim at the first Thanksgiving in the John Weaver-designed sculpture. This artwork depicts Gretzky holding the coveted Stanley Cup aloft, wearing a hockey jersey that looks as though it were fashioned from a sack. Erected in 1989, this unwelcome nine-foot tribute can be found in Edmonton, Alberta.

wayne gretzky

5. Walter Johnson

Depicting motion in still art is a notoriously difficult skill which, if done correctly, can be sublime. If done incorrectly, however, you end up with a really creepy baseball statue in the form of right-hand pitching legend, Walter Johnson. Rather than showcasing his beautiful pitching motion, this multi-armed demon looks like it has emerged from the lower depths, scaring all who pass by the Nationals’ Park. Johnson’s own grandson and official biographer, Henry Thomas, said of the statue ‘it just doesn’t work’. Too true.

walter johnson statue


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