Some of the worst skin art in the game
Awful tattoos in football used to be the realm of the supporter: remember that Manchester City fan getting a tattoo of Brazilian playmaker Kaka, who then signed for Real Madrid? But in recent times, players with more money and time than sense and wise friends have been getting the needle, becoming the canvas for terrible ‘artwork’.
These beauties are among the worst you’re likely to see. From face tattoos that look like they were done by Slasher off D Wing, to homages to players’ girlfriends that leave a lot to be desired, we take a look at some of football’s most baffling skin graffiti.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that former Portsmouth, River Plate, Wolfsburg and Real Zaragoza midfielder maestro D’Alessandro was nicknamed ‘El Cabezon’ (Big Head) for his high opinion of himself, particularly when you see the tattoo he has on his stomach – of his own face. But the moniker actually stuck due to his oversized head, although now we assume that both meanings are equally applicable.
Olympic gold medallist D’Alessandro now plays his football in Porto Alegre with Internacional, where the fans love him almost as much as he loves himself.
You have to be mad to be a goalkeeper, as the old adage goes. But you have to be even madder to be a goalkeeper who thinks getting a tattoo of an upside down monkey on your stomach is a good idea, but that’s exactly what Polish international Artur Boruc did.
Well known for his antics on and off the pitch, including chucking a water bottle at his own supporters on his Southampton debut and being fined for making certain gestures at Rangers fans while at Celtic, the former Bournemouth custodian opted to use his belly button to act as the poor primate’s, erm, rubbish chute. Stay classy, Artur.
Londoner Bothroyd is currently banging in the goals with Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in the Japanese J League, joining from Jubilo Iwata in 2017. Having struggled to make a meaningful impact in his last couple of seasons in England, making the move to Asia has proved to be one of Bothroyd’s better choices.
Sadly, the same can't be said about his choice of body art, with the letters L-O-V-E writ large upon his torso – in the shape of a pistol, a hand-grenade, a flick-knife and an assault rifle. Because it's ironic, right?
Norwegian giant Carew played for the likes of Aston Villa, Valencia, Roma and Besiktas in his career, and is well known for his love of tattoos. His two seasons at Lyon between 2005 and 2007 was probably enough to give him a good grasp of the language but sadly for the former international, not quite long enough.
His neck tattoo reads Ma Vie, Mes Règles which, as those of you who paid attention during GCSE French already know, means ‘My Life, My Rules’. Sadly for Big John, the French word ‘régles’ is also used to mean ‘menstruation’, giving his garish tattoo a whole different meaning than intended. Luckily, with Carew being 6ft 5in, not many people can see his neck – and the Cantona collar is always an option.
The former Bologna, Livorno, West Ham and Guangzhou Evergrande playmaker has always done things his way on the pitch. A fantastic player to watch on his day, the Italian has nonetheless been guilty of being too individualistic at times in his career, which helps explain why he only ever won 17 caps for his country.
He also has some seriously weird tattoos, many of which appear on his calf. As if that Acid House smiley face isn’t bad enough, for some reason he’s added Hello Kitty and buck-toothed, carrot-nosed snowman Olaf from Frozen just below it. It's a bit like doodles on a notebook, except permanent, and on his skin.
Argentinian Icardi hasn’t just caught the eye of the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea in recent times with his sensational performances for Inter since joining in 2013. He also caught the eye of Wanda Nara, then wife of former team-mate Maxi Lopez, drawing criticism from people both inside and outside the game.
Icardi and Nara married shortly after the divorce from Maxi Lopez was finalised but even those who had given the striker the benefit of the doubt struggled to defend him when he subsequently inked the names of Lopez and Nara’s children on his arm. If reports in Argentina are to be believed, Lionel Messi – a friend of Lopez’s – was among the unimpressed.
Ranger has courted controversy throughout his footballing career, including a couple of spells in prison and numerous run-ins with the authorities. You’d think he’d want to keep his head down as much as possible, but the former Blackpool, Swindon and Southend striker got a tattoo of his own name instead. On his face.
The striker was once highly thought of by former club Newcastle, but the Londoner’s rap sheet has eclipsed his scoring record since he made his professional debut in 2009 and he was released by Southend in January 2018 for “reoccurring disciplinary issues”. Still, at least referees have little trouble writing his name in their notebooks – if they ever did struggle.
With the scores level in the final minute of extra time against Brazil at the World Cup in 2014, substitute striker Pinilla arrowed a shot towards goal, beating keeper Julio Cesar but striking the crossbar. Chile had given the tournament hosts an almighty scare that almost had the perfect ending, but for the woodwork.
Far from wanting to move on and forget about it, Pinilla had the moment immortalised with a tattoo instead – although looking how squarely that cartoon ball is thwocking the woodwork, we doubt he was actually "One centimeter from glory". At least it’s on his back so he doesn’t have to look at it every day.
Ramos has won just about everything there is to win in football, and we could have dedicated this entire list to the Real Madrid and Spain defender. Among his gallery if inkings are a lion and a wolf on his back, the Star of David on one arm and a large rendition of the Virgin Mary on the other.
The Real Madrid captain also has four individual markings on each finger of his left hand, which sounds a bit like overkill to us. The most cryptic of those are the four numbers Ramos sports on his knuckles: 35, 90, 32, 19. The Spain international has invited his fans to guess the significance of each, but as yet he’s neither confirmed nor denied any of the theories. The mystery continues.
Daniele De Rossi
A midfield general known for his loose discipline on the pitch, De Rossi clearly enjoys the role he’s perfected over a 15-year career with hometown club Roma and the Italian national team.
A fine player but a ball-winner first and foremost, he has gone for a calf tattoo reminiscent of a cleaner’s slippery-floor sign, celebrating the art of the ankle-knackerer. Not sure this one will aid his cause next time he pleads innocence with a referee.
Serbian defender Uros Vita wanted a permanent reminder of his love for wife so decided to get her face tattooed on his torso. No doubt a sweet gesture from Vita, until you actually look at the thing. It is a bizarre, terrifying formless face that doesn’t do any justice to Andrijana whatsoever.
We reckon a card and flowers would have done just fine, Uros.
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