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  1. ITV Report

Artist ‘happy’ with divisive George Best sculpture

The artist behind a sculpture of Northern Ireland footballing legend George Best has said the family are happy with it, so he is happy with it.

The tribute outside the Olympia Leisure Centre near Windsor Park has divided opinion, with some fans delighted to see the footballer captured in motion and others doubting the likeness with the man himself.

“People are entitled to their opinions, but the most important people are his family and his fans,” Belfast sculptor Tony Currie told UTV.

“His own sister Barbara said that it was an incredible likeness.”

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He added that fans had said they loved “seeing him playing football, what he wanted to be remembered for”.

The sculpture has been a labour of love on and off over a number of years, initially funded by Mr Currie and then crowdfunded by fans.

“Countless hours after finishing a day’s work, evenings, weekends – and to see it finished and in such a prominent place, it makes it all worthwhile,” the artist said.

The bronze statue has definitely divided opinion. Credit: UTV

He added: “I think we’ve captured the movement and anyone who knows about art and about casting and about sculpting will know that’s a hard trick to pull off.”

Sculptures of famous faces are notorious for causing controversy, with debate often raging over the quality of the likeness to the subject.

Footballers seem to fare particularly badly, with memorable cases including a bust of Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo that was replaced at the request of his family.

A statue of Egyptian star Mo Salah also came under fire on social media, with many claiming it looked more like Art Garfunkel than the Liverpool ace.

Liverpool footballer Mo Salah and his statue in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt.