Soccer statue survey set to score on the net

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A Sheffield University survey of football statues around the world is set to go global on a new internet database.

Researchers have now identified over 350 statues of the sport’s finest players spread across 56 countries in all six continents.

Sheffield United have made their contribution with three statues at Bramall Lane - immortalising long-serving star Joe Shaw, former chairman and city-wide hero Derek Dooley and legendary inside forward Jimmy Hagan.

But despite the club’s long and illustrious history, Sheffield Wednesday are yet to erect a statue to any player or manager.

The new database, at www.sportingstatues.com, features information on when the statues were unveiled, who sculpted them and the inscriptions on plinths or plaques.

There are also images of each statue and links to location maps, as well as a world map of statues.

Just under 300 different footballers, as well as less obvious subjects such as chairmen, broadcasters and fans are among the 320 distinct individuals depicted.

Unsurprisingly the most frequently portrayed player with six statues is the legendary Pelé. In addition 125 statues of anonymous football players have been identified.

Dr Chris Stride has been working on the project for the last three years.

He said: “The earliest footballer statue identified, an anonymous player, can be found in Copenhagen 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.”

Though the UK leads the way with 80 statues, traditional football nations Brazil, Spain and Holland have each erected more than 20, and statues are also popular in Argentina, Russia and Mexico.

Even nations with a less successful playing history, such as China, Bolivia, Israel and Indonesia, have erected monuments to their greatest players.