I visited the infamously bad bust of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madeira, but it's not even the only terrible artwork of the soccer star on the island

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I visited the infamously bad bust of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madeira, but it's not even the only terrible artwork of the soccer star on the island
Ronaldo’s bust at the airport in Madeira is tiny.Insider/Barnaby Lane
  • I visited the infamous bust of Cristiano Ronaldo at the airport in Madeira.
  • It was really small and made him look more like a Roman emperor than a soccer star.

When artist Emanuel Santos' bust of Cristiano Ronaldo was unveiled outside the terminal building of the airport on Ronaldo's home island Madeira in March 2017 – it, and he, were lambasted.

From The Goonies' "Sloth" to NBA player Kristaps Porzingis – people around the world were quick to point about that Santos' work looked very little like the Portuguese soccer star.

Ronaldo himself wasn't impressed either.

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He attended its unveiling ceremony and was all smiles. That is until the bust was revealed. As he turned to look at it, Ronaldo's smile quickly turned to a face of disbelief.

"I was feeling very sad," Santos told Bleacher Report at the time. "Disappointed. I have no words. I'm very surprised."

He added: "Even Jesus did not please everyone. This is a matter of taste, it's not as simple as it seems."

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Fortunately for us and sadly for the Madeira-born artist, his bust was replaced with one made by an unnamed Spanish artist shortly afterwards.

That one is now on display at the airport. You can see it just as you exit the arrivals area, directly opposite the taxi rank.

I went to see it for myself

On a recent trip to Madeira to report on Ronaldo's influence on the island, I stopped to take a look as I left the airport.

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The first thing that struck me about the bust is simply how small it is. Given that it was made to commemorate Madeira airport being renamed after Ronaldo, I was expecting something far more grand.

Instead, what I was greeted with was a bust just barely bigger than the soccer star's own head that you could have easily walked past without noticing.

Upon closer inspection, the bust, though an improvement on the original, still doesn't look all that much like Ronaldo.

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Its expressionless face, perfectly symmetrical head, and coiffed hair make it look more like a the bust of a Roman emperor than of the soccer icon. Maybe that's deliberate, but I'm not so sure.

But as The Guardian's Eddy Frankel said in 2018, it serves as a "reassuring statement that we are mortals and Ronaldo is not."

It isn't even the only bad artwork of Ronaldo on the island

Funchal, Madeira, the town in which Ronaldo was born, is littered with homages to its most famous ever star.

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On top of the airport being named after him, Ronaldo owns his own Cristiano Ronaldo-themed hotel on the port, has a museum dedicated to him, and a square named after him.

Touring the town, you will also see various pieces of Ronaldo artwork dotted around.

The best of the bunch is tucked in one of Funchal's backstreets. It is only a small graffiti mural of Ronaldo celebrating his Euro 2016 win with Portugal, but it's by far the most accurate depiction of the 36-year-old.

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I visited the infamously bad bust of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madeira, but it's not even the only terrible artwork of the soccer star on the island
This graffiti is the best likeness of Ronaldo you can see in Funchal.Insider/Barnaby Lane

Inside the museum, things get a little worse. There is a life size statue of Ronaldo made entirely of chocolate which does little to serve the star justice — not least the brown teeth — while the two mannequins of the Manchester United forward on display are simply haunting.

I visited the infamously bad bust of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madeira, but it's not even the only terrible artwork of the soccer star on the island
Tasty.Insider/Barnaby Lane

The worst piece of Ronaldo artwork on the island, however is the most prominent – the three meter tall bronze statue which stands directly outside the adjoined museum and the hotel.

From a distance, it's clear to see that it's Ronaldo — the stance and overly muscular body are big giveaways. As are the fact people gather around it all day to take photos and scream "SIUUU."

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I visited the infamously bad bust of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madeira, but it's not even the only terrible artwork of the soccer star on the island
Good on you, Ronnie.Insider/Barnaby Lane

Up close, however, stick a red mohawk on it, and it could be David Beckham.

But the strangest bit?

The insanely buffed crotch, which looks as though hundreds, if not thousands, of people have ... rubbed it while walking past.

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On an island that worships Ronaldo, the one tribute they simply cannot seem to get right is casting him in metal (or chocolate for that matter.)

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