Aside from silverware, it’s supposedly one of the highest honours in football: getting your own statue.
Your face and likeness inscribed in stone or metal, an eternal physical tribute to your career and success, a monument memorialising your past glories.
On Tuesday, Lionel Messi became the latest footballing star to be presented with a statue, as the Argentina captain was rewarded with a larger than life-size sculpture after leading his country to World Cup glory in Qatar.
But there are plenty of terrible-looking football statues too – just ask Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Diego Maradona (among others)!
It can be tough to get it right – and below, Sportsmail looks at the best, worst and ugliest football statues in history.
Earlier this week, Messi was honoured with a statue of himself holding the World Cup trophy, and though it won’t come close to the feeling of lifting it in Qatar, he was clearly emotional as he unveiled it.
South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL hosted the entire Argentina team in an event dubbed ‘The Night of the Stars’ on Monday, with the monument set to stand beside similar statues of Maradona and Pele in the CONMEBOL museum in Luque, Paraguay.
Messi was visibly awestruck as the curtain raised on the statue, and said: ‘I never dreamed or thought about this. My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional soccer player, to do what I always loved in this life.
‘I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory. I think that the most important thing (is) to fight for your dreams. (To know) that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is.’
Messi was also given the ceremonial ‘baton of football’ by CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez, which apparently gives him the ‘leadership and command of world football’. I’ll just take the statue, cheers, Alejandro.
Lionel Messi was emotional as he unveiled the statue in honour of his World Cup on Tuesday
‘Becks’ will likely be satisfied with his bronze statue at Legend’s Plaza outside the Dignity Health Sports Park in California.
Outside the stadium of LA Galaxy, the Major League Soccer club where Beckham spent five years, he was honoured with this pretty accurate depiction.
It manages to capture his quiff, his good looks, and nicely portrays his classic stance when taking a trademark free kick.
Pretty good marks for this effort.
Famous former England star David Beckham’s statue in California is actually pretty good
Dennis Bergkamp is one of the most cherished players in Arsenal history, given his elegance on the ball and his capacity for creating moments of magic.
The below statue, in front of the wall of legends which also shows Bergkamp, also manages to give fans a sense of his seemingly effortless athleticism and grace.
A little ironic, perhaps, that given his nickname of the ‘Non-Flying Dutchman’ (he was afraid of flying on aeroplanes), that his statue is airborne.
Honourable mentions to the makers of tributes to Bobby Moore, Tom Finney, the late lifetime Valencia fan Vicente Aparacio – whose statue was placed in his favourite vantage point at the Mestalla Stadium – and Manchester United’s ‘Holy Trinity’.
Legendary former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly’s isn’t bad either.
While Dennis Bergkamp’s airborne tribute outside the Emirates Stadium is classy and elegant
Marco Materazzi-Zinedine Zidane
This is just plain weird. The below statue, built to remember France star Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt on Italian opponent Marco Materazzi (right) in the 2006 World Cup final, raises more questions than it answers.
Why try to memorialise a game that France lost? Why is Zidane being rewarded for a moment of madness that saw him sent off, potentially costing them the most important game in the sport?
The bronze, five-metre high statue by Algerian Adel Abdessemed, outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris, is actually a pretty accurate simulacrum of what happened.
But the game after which Zidane retired, distraught, doesn’t strike me as the best match from which to remember the midfielder’s stellar career.
Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup headbutt on Marco Materazzi is bizarrely remembered in Paris
What on earth can you say about this monstrosity?
After going on display at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, in Salah’s home country of Egypt, fans had lots of questions.
It took Mai Abdel Allah an entire month to create this tribute. He clearly procrastinated for the first 30 and a half days, and knocked this off in three hours. Possibly while drunk.
Why are his legs like toothpicks? Why are his arms like those of a particularly minuscule velociraptor? Why is his head so disproportionately massive? Why is there more material in his massive bush of hair than in all four of his limbs?
Did he overshoot how much material he needed at the top and run out when it came to the bottom? I want answers.
Mo Salah’s tribute is hilariously awful and out of proportion, with a massive head and tiny arms
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez has won plenty of trophies in his career, but nothing can compare to the statue he received bel- oh, who am I kidding.
This strange almost-but-not-quite life-size figure, on a random street corner in his hometown of Salto, is placed outside an office supplies shop.
It’s an odd location for an odd statue. Slightly stout and dumpy in some areas, but too thin in others, I’m not sure if Suarez will be insulted or complimented by this.
While Luis Suarez’ statue on a random street corner in Uruguay is almost, but not quite, lifesize
…and the ugly
Where else to start? The most infamous failed footballer’s statue in history, possibly. The gold standard of awfulness.
Ronaldo received this bust, placed outside the airport named after him in Madeira, Portugal, but will wish he hadn’t.
The face is so clearly lop-sided and asymmetrical, the cheeks look strained and it bears the demented smile and haunted eyes of someone who’s been awake for three weeks.
Rather than resembling Ronaldo, it drew comparisons to former Sunderland striker Niall Quinn and ex-Charlton defender Paul Konchesky. Don’t know how much they’ll be offended by that.
On this basis, Lionel Messi has certainly won the statue battle between the pair, widely considered two of the best footballers of all time.
Where else to start? Cristiano Ronaldo’s awful bust is infamously one of the worst of all time
The new bust (right) is obviously better but much blander than the weird initial attempt (left)
The face on this statue, in homage to Argentine legend Diego Maradona, isn’t the worst.
But there’s something not quite right about the proportions, the giant hands, the off-centre facial expression.
Add that to the massive shaggy mane as if three bearded collies died on his head and you have many of the ingredients for an ugly statue.
This was unveiled at the Sribhumi Sporting Club in Kolkata, India, in 2017.
Diego Maradona’s shaggy hair in this statue, unveiled in Kolkata in 2017, wasn’t quite right
This robotic-looking effort, meant to represent former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, would look more at home on the set of Terminator 3 than in Essien’s home country of Ghana.
The sharp, angular, humanoid features look mechanical and lifeless rather than warm or genuine.
The proportions also look somewhat off – making it onto the ‘ugly’ list.
Ghana midfielder Michael Essien might not be too happy with this tribute in his home country
This statue of Ronaldo Nazario, also known as Brazilian Ronaldo or R9… it’s not great.
It captures some of the man’s physical strength and stature as a player, but his stomach looks swollen.
Though the pose is pretty accurate, the face is genuinely baffling. At least the man himself (below, right) seems happy enough with it.
(Dis)honourable mentions to makers of the statues for Radamel Falcao and Andres Iniesta. I won’t show them to you. You’re welcome.