Which clubs have the most statues of legends at their stadiums?

Published on: 28 November 2023

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Manchester City have unveiled the latest addition to the growing array of statues at their Etihad Stadium, with more of the club's legendary players receiving the honour this week.

The reigning Premier League champions have celebrated three icons from the 1960s and '70s: Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee. The trio were part of the revered City team that became champions of the old First Division in 1967-68.

Bell, Lee and Summerbee collectively made over 1,000 appearances and scored almost 300 goals for City while also playing integral roles in winning the 1968-69 FA Cup, 1969-70 League Cup and the 1969-70 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

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More than half a century later, the triumvirate have been immortalised with a statue on the concourse outside the Etihad along with tributes to some of City's more recent greats.

That brings City's total of full-size statues up to five (with the new sculpture counting as one piece, despite featuring multiple people) which means they are among the top European teams with the most life-size likenesses of legendary club figures sited at their grounds.

But which of them has the most? And which don't have any at all? We took a look around the biggest and most historic clubs in Europe's top leagues to find out.

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AC Milan & Inter Milan (0 statues)Marta CarenziArchivio Marta CarenziMondadori via Getty Images

As joint tenants at San Siro, it is probably in the interest of continued cordiality that neither AC Milan nor Inter have placed any of their many respective club legends on a pedestal outside the famous old stadium. Although, given that its official name is the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza -- after the Milanese former player who was a great for Inter and also played for Milan during his career -- perhaps a monument to him is a glaring omission.

Instead, situated at the San Siro racecourse across the road, there is large bronze sculpture of a horse based on Leonardo da Vinci's famous sketches. The Rossoneri also have a statue of former manager Nereo Rocco at their Milanello training headquarters.

Borussia Dortmund (0)Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

Dortmund don't have any statues at Signal Iduna Park. However, there is the monument to former midfielder Max Michallek which was unveiled in 2021 in Borsigplatz -- where BVB were founded -- and was part-funded by the club.

Juventus (0)Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Despite winning a whole host of trophies -- including a record 36 Italian championships and two European Cups -- Juventus don't have any statues of any of the club's former greats on display outside the Allianz Stadium, which they only moved into in 2011. They do at least have an unusual, abstract "twisted column" sculpture that takes pride of place at the back of the car park.

Paris Saint-Germain (0)Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

PSG have only been in existence since 1970. Although they did not previously have anything like the success of their last decade or so of Qatari-funded dominance, there was the odd trophy claimed and even some European glory in the form of the old UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1995-96. Still, they don't have any statues erected at the Parc des Princes yet.

Real Madrid (0)

Somewhat surprisingly, given their grand history, Real Madrid do not currently have any statues at the Bernabeu, and the one they used to have there is no longer on display. It depicts two of their former players -- Sotero Aranguren and Alberto Machimbarrena -- who won the Copa del Rey together with Los Blancos in 1917. Both men died tragically young -- Aranguren at the age of 28 in 1922 and Machimbarrena the following year at 35 -- and the statue was created in 1925 in tribute to them. Originally erected outside Madrid's old stadium, it was placed inside the Bernabeu after that was built in 1947 and was most recently placed by the locker rooms. The club has told ESPN that the statue is in storage while the redevelopment of the Bernabeu continues.

Tottenham Hotspur (0)Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Despite having a plethora of heroes from their past to pick from, Spurs do not have any statues of any of their great former players or managers outside their new stadium. Furthermore, they didn't have any outside their old White Hart Lane ground, which stood on more-or-less the same site, either. We could have counted the sculpture of the giant golden cockerel on the roof of the south stand but, a glorious as it looks, that's a bit of a stretch.

Ajax (1)REMKO DE WAAL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Johan Cruyff: After renaming their stadium in his honour in 2018, the year after his death, Ajax finally graced the Johan Cruijff ArenA with a statue of their greatest-ever player in 2020 by unveiling a wonderful bronze figure of Cruyff in his pomp on a plinth outside the stadium.

Atletico Madrid (1)Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Luis Aragones: After a 10-year playing stint with Atleti between 1964 and 1974 during which he scored over 100 goals and won LaLiga three times, club legend Aragones went on to manage the club and led them to another league title in 1976-77. In the last of his seven stints in charge he earned promotion back to the top flight by winning the 2001-02 Segunda Division.

Atleti also have a second statue on the concourse outside the Metropolitano stadium -- a brilliant three-dimensional depiction of El Oso y El Madroño, the image of the bear and strawberry tree that is on the city of Madrid's coat of arms as well as Atleti's club crest. But seeing as the bear has never made an official appearance for the club or managed them for even one match, we can't include it in our count.

Bayern Munich (1)Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Gerd Müller: Bayern unveiled a statue of their great striker outside the Allianz Arena in September 2023 to honour the club's all-time record goal scorer. The wonderfully expressive sculpture depicts "Der Bomber," who died in 2021, with his arms spread wide while celebrating one of the 563 goals he scored for the Bavarians.

Chelsea (1)Stephen Pond/PA Images via Getty Images

Peter Osgood: Chelsea have but one statue outside Stamford Bridge but it's certainly a good one. The sculpture depicts Blues legend Osgood, who scored in victorious finals of the FA Cup in 1970 and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup a year later. Dubbed "The King of Stamford Bridge," he has been given a suitably regal position atop a large plinth overlooking the concourse outside the West Stand.

Napoli (1)Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Diego Maradona: There are no prizes on offer for guessing who commands the only statue on view at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Napoli unveiled the bronze statue on Nov. 28, 2021, a year after the Argentine icon's passing. According to Naples-born sculptor Dario Caruso, Maradona's former manager and friend Stefano Ceci had promised Maradona a statue to honour him after he was granted honorary citizenship of the city in 2017. Ceci already had a scan of Maradona's foot, which is reproduced in gold on the statue. That sculpture is located inside the stadium by locker room.

There has previously been another statue of Maradona, by sculptor Domenico Sepe, located outside the stadium. Sepe had donated the statue to the Naples' town hall and it was placed outside the stadium in November 2021. However, it was removed the same day, pending a permit, and never put back. Earlier this year, Naples' town hall decided to return the bronze statue to Sepe. The council said it couldn't keep it as the statue's value (more than €30,000) is too high to take as a donation. It is now located in a famous pizzeria, "Il tempio di Maradona" ["Maradona's temple"] in Naples' Quartieri Spagnoli.

Barcelona (2)Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Laszlo Kubala: The first former Barça player to receive a statue outside Camp Nou was Kubala, the Hungary-born Spain international who won LaLiga four times during the 1950s and scored 194 goals for the Blaugrana. He was also, for more than half a century, the club's second-highest goal scorer of all time, before Lionel Messi romped to the top of the charts (ending up with 672 goals) and Luis Suárez (198) also overtook him.

David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Johan Cruyff: As well as having a his own statue and even a stadium named after him in his hometown of Amsterdam, Cruyff can also boast a sculpture of his likeness outside Camp Nou, which became somewhat his spiritual home. The former Barça player and manager can be seen directing proceedings outside the entrance to the grandstand, as he has been since 2019 when he had the posthumous honour bestowed upon him by the club.

Benfica (2)Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Eusebio: First unveiled outside the Estadio da Luz in 1992, the statue of Eusebio in full flight stands proudly on the concourse. It was also adorned with hundreds of scarves and a golden crown when the great striker, fondly referred to as "The King" by fans, passed away in 2014.

Bela Guttmann: Hungarian coach Guttmann managed Benfica over two stints (1959-62 and 1965-66) and, despite only being in charge for a comparatively brief period of time, still managed to win two Primeira Divisao titles, the Portuguese Cup and two European Cups, which his statue still cradles proudly.

Benfica also have a bust inside their stadium as a memorial to Hungary international striker Miklos Feher, who died at the age of 24 in 2004 after collapsing on the pitch while playing for the club.

Liverpool (2)Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

Bill Shankly: It's only right that the man widely credited as Liverpool's greatest manager has his own statue outside Anfield. Shankly can be seen, arms outstretched, outside the entrance to the Kop (often with red scarves tied around his wrists by home fans.).

Daniel Chesterton/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Bob Paisley: The eight-foot sculpture of Paisley is a recreation of one of his most enduring images, carrying injured Reds defender Emlyn Hughes off the pitch in a match against Tottenham in 1968 during his tenure as club physio. Paisley held many positions at Liverpool and eventually took over as manager in 1974. Building on the foundations laid by Shankly, Paisley led Liverpool to six league titles and three European Cups.

There is also a bronze bust of John Houlding, the man who originally founded Liverpool Football Club in 1892, outside the Main Stand at Anfield. It's a fine monument, but we are only counting full statues here.

Manchester City (5)

Bert Trautmann: The first statue placed at the Etihad after City moved there in 2003 was a sculpture of former goalkeeper Trautmann. The German entered football folklore as a result of his heroics in the 1956 FA Cup final, making a series of crucial saves during the latter stages of City's 3-1 victory over Birmingham despite playing the last 17 minutes of the game with a broken neck.

David Silva OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

David Silva: Silva was the first of three latter-day City stars to receive a stylish statue outside the Etihad. The diminutive Spanish midfielder had his likeness immortalised upon his departure from the club in 2020 following 10 successful and wildly transformative years. The 37-year-old is the only figure on this list who is still playing, as he is currently in his third season at Real Sociedad.

Vincent Kompany Visionhaus/Getty Images

Vincent Kompany: The Belgian defender became the second of City's modern Premier League-winning heroes to receive a statue outside the Etihad when the former club captain was honoured with a similarly shimmering statue on the same day as Silva in August 2021.

Sergio Aguero Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Sergio Agüero: Agüero received the same honour the following summer on the 10th anniversary of the Argentine striker's late, late goal that sealed City's first Premier League title and ushered in a new era of domestic dominance.

Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee: City added to their Etihad statue tally on Tuesday by unveiling a tasteful tribute to the club's legendary trio Bell, Lee and Summerbee this week. Similar to Manchester United's "Holy Trinity" (see below), City commissioned an ensemble statue in honour of their own vaunted trio that features them sharing a raised plinth.

Manchester United (5)Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law: Otherwise known as "The Holy Trinity," the statue of Charlton, Best and Law is arguably among the most famous footballing artworks in the world. Stationed outside Old Trafford, the large sculpture depicts the three United legends arm in arm in celebration.

Denis Law: It's worth also noting that Law has his own individual statue inside the stadium, befitting of the striker's enduring legacy as "The King of the Stretford End." The figure of Law can be found at the top of the terrace in front of which he scored many of his goals during his 11-year association with United.

Sir Matt Busby Dave Thompson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Sir Matt Busby: Stood facing the "Holy Trinity" is the man responsible for managing United to glory in the 1950s and 1960s. Sculpted with a football tucked casually under his arm, Busby won 13 major honours with the club despite many believing his famed team of eponymous "Babes" were too young to compete for silverware.

Jimmy Murphy Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images

Jimmy Murphy: Unveiled earlier this year, United commissioned a statue to mark former coach Murphy's considerable contribution to the club's history. Murphy stepped in as caretaker manager in the aftermath of the Munich Air Disaster, which claimed the lives of 23 people (including eight United players) and left Busby hospitalised. The Welshman helped to steer United through the dreadful crisis and even took them to the FA Cup final just three months after the crash.

Sir Alex Ferguson Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson: Ferguson formally took his place alongside Busby in the United pantheon when his statue was unveiled outside Old Trafford in 2012. The most successful manager in the club's history, Fergie won just about everything during his 26-year tenure and his statue continues to preside over the entrance to the stand that now also bears his name.

Arsenal (6)Ken Friar Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images

Ken Friar: Having begun working for Arsenal as a 12-year-old, Friar went on to become a board member and managing director of the club before accepting a role as the Gunners' honorary life president in 2020. A statue of Friar was erected outside the Emirates in 2011 and recreates a photograph taken of the youngster in 1945 while playing football in the street outside the club's old Highbury stadium.

Thierry Henry David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Thierry Henry: As part of their 125th anniversary celebrations, Arsenal unveiled a trio of statues outside the Emirates on the same day in December 2011 to honour three of the club's most influential figures. Encapsulating his style and panache, Henry's bronze likeness shows the French striker celebrating after scoring with a typically incredible strike against Tottenham at Highbury in 2002.

Tony Adams Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Tony Adams: The club's second-highest appearance-maker of all time, Adams spent 19 years at Arsenal after joining the club as a schoolboy in 1983 and was installed as captain at the age of 22 just five years later. He won 10 major honours with the Gunners and his statue shows the veteran centre-back celebrating his Premier League title-clinching goal against Everton in 1998.

Herbert Chapman John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Herbert Chapman: The third of the statues unveiled as part of Arsenal's 125th anniversary was a tribute to former manager Chapman, whose innovative approach to fitness and tactics helped revolutionise the club from the ground up between 1925 and 1935, during which time he won the league four times in the space of five years.

Dennis Bergkamp John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Dennis Bergkamp: Three years after the first flurry, Bergkamp was honoured with a statue outside the Clock End at the Emirates in 2014. The Dutch forward spent 11 years at the Gunners and scored 120 goals in 423 games, winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

Arsene Wenger Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Arsene Wenger: The sixth and most recent statue (at current count) outside the Emirates followed along in July 2023 when former boss Wenger was added to the troupe. The progressive French coach spent 22 years in charge of the Gunners and won three Premier League titles (including the unbeaten "Invincibles" season of 2003-04) and a competition-record seven FA Cups. He also played a pivotal role in designing the stadium outside which his statue now stands.

So does this mean that Arsenal can claim to have more statues of club legends outside their stadium than any other football club in the world? Well, yes -- sort of.

We know that the Gunners currently boast six bronze figures outside the Emirates, which technically gives them the highest tally of individual statues within the immediate proximity of their home ground. However, according to the impressively comprehensive database compiled by the Sporting Statues Project, while not on display outside their stadiums, a few other clubs do have significantly more on the premises.

For example, Argentine club Boca Juniors have a grand total of 24 player statues at La Bombonera but they all form part of an exhibition within the club museum, located under their iconic ground in Buenos Aires.

FC Ararat Yerevan have 21 player statues at their Hrazdan Stadium but the sculpture is a tribute to Armenian club's famed league and cup double winning side of 1973 and features all members of the squad with their arms linked -- therefore arguably forming one large statue.

The image of 11 former players and their coach can also be found on a monument at the Alejandro Villanueva stadium in the capital city of Peru, home to Club Alianza Lima. However, rather than a traditional statue, the tribute is a large, flat cement frieze that honours the victims of a plane crash that occurred in 1987.

Source: espn.co.uk

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