Bronze tribute to soccer legend George Best draws mixed reaction


Pat Jennings (left) and Gerry Armstrong during the unveiling of a statue to George Best outside Winsdor Park in Belfast last Wednesday. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Pat Jennings (left) and Gerry Armstrong during the unveiling of a statue to George Best outside Winsdor Park in Belfast last Wednesday. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A bronze statue of soccer legend George Best, unveiled in his native Belfast this week, has drawn mixed reactions.

The late, great Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger was remembered on Wednesday when his life-size statue was uncovered near Windsor Park.

However, critics claimed the statue, erected near the stadium where Best produced his magic on the field for Northern Ireland in the 1960s and early 70s, looked nothing like the midfielder.

Best is in illustrious company with bronze statues of Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona also drawing criticism.

The statue was revealed to the public on the day of Best’s 73rd birthday, but the figure has drawn mixed reviews with some fans comparing it the “White Walkers” from Game of Thrones.

One Northern Ireland fan, Davy Boyd, said the statue was “worse-looking than the Ronaldo one” (see below) in reference to the statue that was unveiled at Madeira airport but was evenually replaced following a barrage of criticism.

The sculptor of Best’s likeness, Belfast artist Tony Currie, insisted he was pleased with the statue.

“Anybody that’s important – his family and his fans – they’ve all agreed that it’s his likeness and that’s enough for me,” Currie told The Guardian.

Gerry Armstrong, whose winning goal against Spain in the 1982 World Cup propelled him Irish football folklore, are defended the statue.

Armstrong, a friend and former team-mate of Best, joined Best’s family for the unveiling, and said: “The body is great and it’s always difficult to get the features exactly right, which is nearly impossible in a bronze statue.

“I personally think it’s very good and it’s an action shot of George which he would have loved,” Armstrong told the Guardian.

Sculpting a statue of a football legend can be a difficult business, as the creator of a figure representing Maradona discovered in India two years ago.

The bronze figure holding up a replica of the World Cup Maradona won for Argentina in 1986 sparked a flurry of online abuse.

In November last year, a statue of Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah (below) was unveiled in Sharm el-Sheikh, again to widespread criticism.

Some fans claimed it looked more like the legendary American folk singer Art Garfunkel than the star striker.

Online Editors

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