With tattoos of four Danish kings on his torso, Liverpool's Daniel Agger has taken the crown for football's most elaborate body art. But, as Rob Hastings discovers, he follows a tradition (not always successful) of players who use their skin as a blank canvas

Djibril Cissé

The French striker's wing tattoo is a reference to the Islamic angel he is named after. He also has a spider's web, designs celebrating his spells at Liverpool and Panathinaikos, and the names of his wife and children.

Stephen Ireland

The Premier League has had plenty of eye-catching wingers over the years, but the best pair of wings undoubtedly belongs to central midfielder Stephen Ireland. He is hoping his career will be reignited at Newcastle United, where he moved during the January transfer window following a short, unsuccessful spell at Aston Villa.

David Beckham

Like Cissé, the former England captain's array of tattoos has built up gradually over time. They include the names of his three sons – Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz – as well as a guardian angel between his shoulder blades and a winged cross on the back of his neck.


Werder Bremen's Brazilian defender gave the cameras this glimpse of his inked back at the end of a Uefa Cup match in 2009. Though few would say it to his face, the image of Jesus on the cross has been ridiculed by some for the fact he appears to have a fine pair of "man boobs".

And on Agger's back...

Sweyn Forkbeard

One of four Danish monarchs depicted on Agger's back, he became king of England in 1013 but was never crowned and died soon after.

Gorm den Gamle

The first recognised King of Denmark, home of the oldest monarchy in Europe, his name means Gorm the Old. He was born between 908 and 918, and died in 958.

Ogier The Dane

A figure of Danish legend akin to England's King Arthur, he is a prominent figure in Old French 'chansons de geste' epic poetry.

Harald Bluetooth

Successor to his father, Gorm den Gamle, Harald unified Denmark, converted the country to Christianity and conquered Sweden.

King Canute

Ruling England from 1016 to 1035, and Denmark from 1018 to 1035, the son of Sveyn is famed for trying to turn back the tide.

When tattoos go wrong

*While Agger had football fans gasping on Wednesday night, Stoke's new signing from Aston Villa has caused them to snigger. The striker John Carew had asked to have the French translation of "My Life, My Rules" – "Ma Vie, Mes Règles" – inscribed on the left side of his neck. Instead, he has ended up with a Gallic phrase meaning "My Life, My Menstrual Periods". The embarrassing mistake, which apparently has led to plenty of jibes in the dressing room, was caused by the mistaken use of an acute accent (é) rather than a grave accent (è).

*Carew is not the first footballer to suffer from an incorrect translation. Back in 2000, David Beckham asked for the Hindi translation of his wife's name, Victoria, to be tattooed on his left forearm. He apparently believed this would be less tacky than having it written in English. Unfortunately for Beckham, who at the time was playing for Manchester United, it was soon pointed out that it translated as "Vihctoria".