A bronze sculpture of the Argentina football legend Diego Maradona was unveiled at a club in Kolkata, although the dubious likeness to the 1986 World Cup winner has attracted online ridicule.
Maradona was in Kolkata for a charity event, nine years after making his first appearance in the capital of India’s West Bengal state and three months after he was due to visit again. His trip had been postponed several times.
The Times of India reported that Maradona, 57, handed out cheques to 11 cancer patients at the event, which was attended by around a thousand people, some of whom were standing on rooftops of the adjoining buildings.
The 12-foot statue features the 1986 World Cup winner with a healthy head of hair and holding aloft the trophy he helped Argentina win in Mexico, although it bears little resemblance to the then 25-year-old captain.
The Argentine guided his country to their 1986 World Cup success with a series of stunning individual performances at the time.
“I am not god of football but a simple footballer,” a smiling Maradona said through an interpreter after the unveiling. “I’m happy to be here in Kolkata again. It’s amazing to have my statue here.”
Some online commenters claimed that the statue bears more likeness to any other personality imaginable including the former England manager, Roy Hodgson, the former NBA star, Susan Boyle or “someone’s gran”.
The incident echoes the case of FIFA Best player of the year and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, whose bust unveiled earlier this year when Madeira airport was renamed to Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo in honour of the Real Madrid star. Reaction to the bronze effigy then had been scathing and eventually prompted an update to be made.