Mario Balotelli and the Strangest Statues in World Football
The unassuming, unpretentious and self-effacing Mario Balotelli has stepped completely out of his comfort zone and walked straight into a news story which shocked the world to its core.
Yes, this meek and mild man has ordered a statue to be made. Of himself. Topless. Posing as the Incredible Hulk.
His celebration against Germany in Euro 2012, that one where he flexed both skeletal and arrogance muscles, is to be forever immortalized in Mario's own home.
But are we really that surprised? This is the same man who went shopping for groceries and came back with a quad bike and trampoline after all.
However, Balotelli's bronze statue is not the strangest in existence—no, really, it isn't—and here are seven wonders of the footballing world that trump the Italian Stallion.
7. Nani: The Court Jester
Mr. Balotelli isn't the only footballer to purchase his own statue for his own house; Nani got there first.
To make it more realistic, or perhaps to avoid having to buy a mirror, Nani donned said statue with a United shirt with his name and number on the back, hung medals around his neck and added a jester hat on his stone head.
Presumably the jester hat was only a recent addition since becoming a bit of a joke at United.
One guest to the Portuguese wingers house told The Sun, "It’s weird when he stands next to it because it’s so life-like."
Life-like? Nani should have just left it rolling around on the floor, then it would be a dead-ringer.
6. You Raise Me Up
This statue represents "sport", apparently.
I'm not sure this was exactly what the Doncaster Rovers fans would have envisioned when they were informed a statue which "symbolizes the regeneration in Doncaster while reflecting on our past" would be erected at Keepmoat Stadium.
Unless the future of the town consists of Robotic Strictly Come Dancing. In which case, all critics will be silenced, Doncaster will become the epicenter of the futuristic world and all who walk the streets will be lifting up their partners in glee.
But at the moment, it just looks weird.
Put a scarf on it at least.
5. I Whip My Hair Back and Forth (When It's Windy)
It's the hair. It's amazing. That is all the analysis this statue of Carlos Valderrama needs.
4. Crossing the Line
Linesmen are often vilified, not celebrated, but it turns out they do things differently in Azerbaijan.
Tofig Bahramov was a linesman in the 1966 World Cup, and he is the infamous chap who awarded "that" goal for Geoff Hurst. You can see in this video how he convinces the referee that the ball crossed the line with his defiant nodding and his mustache quivering with certainty.
It's a shame that a man running up and down the side of a pitch waving a flag is Azerbaijan's most famous footballing export. But I wouldn't be surprised if he was awarded a posthumous knighthood by the Queen for his efforts towards English football.
3. It's Fergie Shrine
It must be strange to walk into work everyday and see a statue of yourself at the front gate. I tried to get my office to take mine down, but they insisted it stayed.
Sir Alex Ferguson gets greeted by a giant image of himself every time he reaches Old Trafford. And although I am not opposed to the club honoring such an incredible manager, surely they should have waited until he has, well, you know, passed to the other side?
And no, I don't mean City.
2. Parlez Vous Headbutt?
One of the most iconic images of a World Cup ever has been immortalized in Paris, France.
No, not Maradona's "Hand of God." Not Bobby Moore on the shoulders of his teammates. Not one of Pele's many goal celebrations. But Zinedine Zidane's forehead meeting squarely with Marco Materazzi's chest.
The sculptor managed to capture the moment perfectly. The anger in Zidane's eyes, the anguish in Materazzi's face and the woodenness of the Italian's acting as he went to ground like he'd been shot.
At least Marco saw the humorous side, tweeting this picture of himself posing underneath the fisticuffs. Blind rage could have easily taken over as he tried to reap revenge on that fateful day.
And I can tell you from experience, headbutting statues is not a good idea. Seriously, I really wish they would just take mine down.
1. It Doesn't Matter If You're Bronze or Clay
Possibly predictably, the strangest footballing statue is that of the King Of Pop outside Craven Cottage.
The construction of Michael Jackson is both disconcerting and a bit rubbish.
Ex-Harrod's owner Mohamed Al Fayed needs to stick to running stores that sell overpriced items such as rabbits which can talk, chocolate light bulbs and wine glasses made of ice to overpaid people. Or, at the very least, find a better celebrity fan of the club to erect a statue of.
Perhaps Hugh Grant would be keen to audition for the role? He is very dashing after all.
But predictable or not, nothing is going to beat Wacko Jacko in London. Until a giant Snoop Dogg is erected outside Celtic FC.