It was supposed to be an honour befitting of an “example of excellence” the footballer of the year who led Portugal to victory in last year’s European Championship. Instead, the bronze bust commemorating Cristiano Ronaldo’s new namesake airport attracted widespread derision, being likened to Sloth from The Goonies or lauded as an Ecce Homo moment. Even former Irish footballer Niall Quinn was, perhaps rather unkindly, drawn into the debate.
This most recent honour was bestowed on Ronaldo by Portugal’s president and prime minister at a ceremony on Wednesday. It saw the international airport in Ronaldo’s homeland Madeira renamed Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo. The footballer already has a statue, a museum and a hotel named after him on the island.
Ronaldo tweeted that he was “happy and honoured” and “proud” to lend his name to the airport, complete with some illustrative and plane emojis. He also shared a clip of himself on his jet, celebrating his pilot’s reference over the intercom to “Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo”. But Ronaldo has thus far been silent on the online reaction to the bust in his — sort of, if you turn your head and squint a bit — likeness unveiled at the terminal’s entrance.
Many social media users have suggested it does not bear much resemblance to the Real Madrid striker, sharing their observations in their masses to the hashtag #RonaldoBust. Others delighted in finding figures that the bust better resembled, including Sloth from The Goonies, Kryten from Red Dwarf, and the botched Ecce Homo restoration. And even his retirement from football more than a decade ago could not save Quinn from repeated comparisons.
Some floated conspiracy theories based on Ronaldo’s football rivalries. Others were just grateful for the fleeting moment of joy..