Cristiano Ronaldo unveils bizarre 'troll face' statue as Madeira Airport is renamed after Real Madrid star

Tom Doyle
Evening Standard

One strange statue in your likeness is bad enough, but two? It seems that not even Cristiano Ronaldo has everything the way he wants.

The Real Madrid striker was joined on Wednesday by dozens of guests and hundreds of fans in his native Madeira Islands for an official ceremony renaming the local airport as 'Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo.'

Portugal's president and the prime minister flew to the island and unveiled a plaque outside the terminal entrance dedicated to the former Manchester United star, above a bust of Ronaldo - and what a bust it was.

Ronaldo already has one (shall we say) imposing statue of himself outside his own museum in Madeira, and the new one is similarly eye-catching.

Slider: Which is the real Ronnie?

Needless to say, the commemorative artwork delighted and horrified Twitter in equal measure...

The 32-year-old Ronaldo is a local hero in Madeira, where he is seen as a rags-to-riches success. He already has a statue, a museum and a hotel named for him in Madeira.

"You know how proud I am of my roots, my homeland," Ronaldo said in a speech, which was watched by guests including Batman - naturally.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The four-time player of the year has made a record 138 national team appearances for Portugal and is the team's top scorer with 71 goals.

The change was decided by the Madeira regional government after Portugal won the 2016 European Championship. Critics said a more distinguished historical figure would be more appropriate. Petitions were started for and against the change.

Ronaldo acknowledged that it was rare for a public figure to be honoured while still alive, saying he was aware that some people didn't agree with the name change.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

However, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the tribute was legitimate because it was decided by an elected government.

Ronaldo, Rebelo de Sousa said in his speech, is "an example of excellence" and "projects Madeira and Portugal across the world far more than anybody else."

Ronaldo is not the first player player with his name on an airport. In Northern Ireland, an airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport in 2006, a year after the local player and former Manchester United winger died.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In Funchal, the regional government provided transport to the outdoor ceremony for schoolchildren and elderly people at care homes. Also present were players and officials from the local Andorinha soccer club, where Ronaldo started when he was seven years old.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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