FUNCHAL (Portugal) • Emanuel Santos, the sculptor who created the bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo, has admitted that his creation may not be to everybody's taste.
But he insisted the Portugal and Real Madrid striker - known for his football prowess, good looks and vanity - had given his seal of approval before it was unveiled on Wednesday.
The bust of the player with a toothy grin and bulging eyes has been widely ridiculed on social media because of its debatable likeness. Many users pointed out that rather than looking like the four-time world player of the year, the bust was a closer resemblance to former Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn.
The statue, which adorns the newly named Aeroporto (airport) Cristiano Ronaldo in Funchal, was also said to resemble Sloth from the movie The Goonies, and New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis.
"That hideous Ronaldo statue is going to be a meme in 5,4,3...," posted Twitter user @Agave310 as countless memes surfaced.
The newly revealed statue holds the distinction of being the second bust of the football star and occasional model that has been the subject of online ridicule.
Another statue, also in Ronaldo's hometown, has also been picked apart for what some saw as glaring obscurities.
"For a very handsome man, Ronaldo has had some appalling luck with statue makers," quipped Twitter user Tom Williams, posting images of the two statues side by side.
Madeiran artist Santos, who spent three weeks sculpting Ronaldo's latest bust, insisted he was happy with his creation.
"It is impossible to please the Greeks and Trojans. Neither did Jesus please everyone," he said. "This is a matter of taste, so it is not as simple as it seems. What matters is the impact that this work generated."
Ronaldo appeared to see the funny side at Wednesday's ceremony but Santos was adamant that the 32-year-old had given the bust his blessing - after some minor alterations.
"Cristiano saw the photos that his brother sent him. I was with the brother at Cristiano's museum in Madeira and from the messages he sent, I could tell that he liked what he saw," he said. "He only asked for some wrinkles that give him a certain expression in his face when he's about to laugh to be changed.
"He said it made him look older and asked for it to be thinned out a bit to make it smoother and more jovial."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, NYTIMES