News / Sculpture

The infamous Cristiano Ronaldo sculptor has been granted a second chance

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Emanuel Jorge da Silva Santos: Cristiano Ronaldo sculpture, photograph by Edward Moss

The creator of the Cristiano Ronaldo sculpture unveiled at Madeira airport to an internet storm last year has been granted a second attempt.

Emanuel Jorge da Silva Santos is a sculptor whose name you may not recognise, but whose work you certainly will through memes and thousands of tweets. A year ago Emanuel was working at Madeira airport and was a hobbyist sculptor. Upon hearing that the airport was planning to be renamed Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, “I immediately started to sculpt daily,” he tells Bleacher Report Football, an online football culture website which has given Emanuel a second chance, making an accompanying film to document the process.

The ten-minute short made by Bleacher Report is emotive to watch, with both Emanuel and his wife breaking into tears when discussing the online aftermath which followed the sculpted bust’s unveiling. “Social media is for those who aren’t brave enough to say face-to-face what they think,” says Emanuel’s wife Armanda Gouveia. “Everybody makes mistakes, and there was no need for so much criticism.”

It’s made clear in the short film that there was no knowing how negative the reaction to Emanuel’s sculpture would be, with the artist himself saying “I felt that feeling of fulfilment,” upon the work being publicly displayed. The film then continues to document Emanuel’s process of his second sculpture, which is an arguably better portrayal of the footballer.

The sculptor then reflects on both his experiences in sculpting Cristiano Ronaldo and explains that: “This [first] one of Ronaldo I made, if I hadn’t done it the way I did, it would’ve already been forgotten a long time ago. So sometimes it’s necessary to have a certain bravery to go against the usual and have an impact. Because even though there are people who mock and make negative comments, there are still many people who value it. And what I’ve learned through all this time is that no matter how few people can see the positive side of the work, they are enough to give us strength.”

The full film is available to watch here.