Tributes: Are statues for the living an own goal?

 

Not content with naming a stand after him, Manchester United announced yesterday that on 23 November, the day before their next Premier League home game against QPR, they'll unveil a statue of their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

It has not been seen yet, but expect the 9ft bronze statue to feature a furious Fergie jabbing at his watch and chewing gum. Probably. It's the work of Philip Jackson, who previously designed the "Trinity" statue at Old Trafford of Denis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton. It's an interesting connection. A statue is most often reserved as a posthumous honour. But two of United's trinity are – like Ferguson – still alive. Similarly, Arsenal honoured all-time top goal-scorer Thierry Henry last December before – in an act of proving he was very much alive – the striker returned to play for the club on loan. Tony Adams was given one at the same time, too, but the 46-year-old centre-back didn't return to play.

Jimmys Hill and Armfield are alive and in statue at Coventry and Blackpool's stadiums respectively. Armfield also crops up in his birthplace, Ashton – where he and World Cup-winning (and living) Ashtonians Geoff Hurst and Simone Perrotta were born. Sir Bobby Robson has a bronze foot in both camps. He unveiled his own statue at Ipswich's Portman Road but was later honoured posthumously by Newcastle. The campaign for a Mario Balotelli statue outside Eastlands begins here.

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