FROM Buenos Aires to Bramall Lane, researchers in Yorkshire have compiled a list of football statues from around the world.
The database of more than 350 statues in 56 different countries is launched today by Sheffield University.
Britain has the most football statues in the world with 80 around the country.
Other traditional footballing nations such as Brazil, Spain and Holland have each erected more than 20 and statues are also popular in Argentina, Russia and Mexico. Nations with a less successful playing history, such as China, Bolivia, Israel and Indonesia, have erected monuments to their greatest players.
The most frequently portrayed player, with six statues, is the legendary Brazillian player Pelé. Other all time greats with more than one include Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Ferenc Puskas. Just under 300 different footballers, as well as less obvious subjects such as chairmen, broadcasters and fans are amongst the 320 distinct individuals depicted.
Statues of 125 anonymous football players have also been identified. One of the least likely names on the list is that of Paul the Octopus - which was credited with being able to correctly predict the outcome of World Cup matches by moving towards a box with the winning’s team’s national flag during the 2010 World Cup.
The website www.sportingstatues.com features information on when the statues were unveiled, who sculpted them and the inscriptions on plinths or plaques, as well as images of each statue and links to a location map.
Those in Yorkshire include Billy Bremner outside of Leeds United’s Elland Road ground and three at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground commemorating the long-serving Joe Shaw, former chairman and Sheffield football hero Derek Dooley, and inside forward Jimmy Hagan.
The database has been compiled by a small team led by Dr Chris Stride, a statistician from the university and Ffion Thomas, a postgraduate student from the University of Central Lancashire, who have worked on the project for the past three years.
Dr Stride said: “The earliest footballer statue identified, an anonymous player, can be found in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was sculpted in 1903. Real Madrid were the first club to erect statues at their stadium, portraying their Argentinian stars Sotero Aranguren and Alberto Machimbarrena in 1925.”
However, almost 95 per cent of football statues have been created since 1990, and over half in the last decade, showing it to be a largely modern phenomenon.
“The primary reasons for this increase are football clubs’ marketing strategies based around branding through nostalgia and authenticity, along with the desire of fans to project their club’s distinct identity in an increasingly globalised game.
“Statues are also being erected by towns, cities and commercial organisations, who are seeking reflected glory and identity from their local sporting heritage.”