The 10 Best Tattoos in World Football
Once reserved for sailors and Maui tribes, tattoos are more popular than ever in Western culture—and the beautiful game.
While some body art seems questionable—Daniele De Rossi's calf warning sign and Mario Balotelli's Genghis Khan quote spring to mind—there are plenty of intriguing and eye-catching tattoos to be found in Europe's top leagues.
Here's B/R's selection of the 10 best tattoos in world football. This is, of course, a very subjective subject, so leave your nominations and thoughts in the comments.
Daniel Agger's Back
Either Daniel Agger is working on an elaborate plan to escape from a future incarceration like Michael Scofield in Prison Break, or he really likes tattoos.
The great Dane has numerous Viking tattoos, a slightly morbid graveyard scene, and a Latin phrase that reads "Death is certain. The hour is uncertain" on his back.
The Liverpool favourite is a qualified tattoo artist who endeared himself to the Kop faithful by getting "YNWA" ("You'll never walk alone") etched on his knuckles. Now that's dedication.
David Beckham's Guardian Angel
At the last count, David Beckham had 32 tattoos, including the names of all four of his children, a misspelt Hindi tribute to his wife Victoria on his left forearm, a large angel on his right bicep, and a flying crucifix on his neck.
One of his earliest—and most iconic—designs is the large Jesus figure in a crucifix pose on his back. It was first inked in 2000 and later transformed into a guardian angel when wings were added.
Thierry Henry's New York Sleeve
Thierry Henry may be a Frenchman who spent the prime of his career in London and Spain, but it is his current home of New York City that takes up the majority of his tattoo real estate.
The Red Bulls star's left arm sleeve depicts the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and a typical New York street scene. His forearm also features a large image of his baby daughter Tea.
The impressive design was created by celebrity studio Bang Bang NYC.
Clint Dempsey's Lone Star State Tribute
His coolest design, however, is the outline of his home state of Texas on his left elbow. The star sits over the county of Nacogdoches where he grew up.
As for the Seattle Sounders fan who got a Deuce tattoo on his neck? Not so hot.
Raul Meireles' Colourful Arms
Fenerbahçe midfielder Raul Meireles is no stranger to the needle. He has a giant dragon etched on his back, pictures of his wife on his arm and daughter on his leg, a necklace with a skull on it, and two huge Mayan skulls on his chest.
His wife Ivone is also a big fan of body art, as you can see from their summer holiday snaps.
Kevin-Prince Boateng's Lip Service
Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has a vast collection of body art.
His hometown of Berlin is given some love on his right forearm, his left bicep carries a map of Ghana, there are playing cards on his neck, and he also has a tatt in tribute to his ex-wife Jenny. Which might perturb his current girlfriend, the tattooed model Melissa Satta.
KPB's most intriguing tattoo, however, is probably the one he had done on the inside of his mouth.
Djibril Cisse's Entire Torso
The Lord of the Manor of Frodsham, also known as Djibril Cisse, has more than 40 tattoos on his upper body. In fact, the Kuban Krasnodar striker has gone under the needle so many times that he has virtually no spare skin left to add to his collection.
The former Liverpool and Marseille man seems to like big cats: He has paw prints on his right shoulder and a leopard print motif running down his left arm.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Big Fish
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a massive amount of incongruous tattoos, including a red dragon next to some playing cards on his right side, the words "Only God Can Judge me" on his ribcage, the birth dates of his parents and siblings on his wrists, his name in Arabic on his right bicep, and various epithets in various languages elsewhere.
He's basically treating his body as a giant Pinterest wall for random things from around the world.
Our favourite of his tattoos is the giant fish on his back. A Swedish fish, if you will.
Dani Alves' Name on His Chest
His best effort might be the word "Daniel" that is emblazoned on his chest. It's not for the instances in which the Brazilian forgets his own name; it's actually his son's name.
Stephen Ireland's Wings
However, the Aston Villa midfielder, currently on loan at Stoke, has a very impressive set of wings on his back. His Stoke teammate Jermaine Pennant also has a set of wings, but his aren't quite as extravagant and detailed.