Remembering the Beautiful Game’s Greats

9 July 2019

Famous football statues can be found throughout the country and for good reason. The beautiful game has long been considered the Great British past time and with millions of us tuning in throughout the season, to watch watching clubs big and small, it’s easy to see why.

What a great day for football, all we need is some green grass and a ball

Bill Shankly

Football produces fantastic personalities and once in a lifetime talents. When those household names die, it’s become something of a tradition for them to be honoured with their own statue.

Sometimes those statues go up at their home ground and sometimes they go up in their hometown. There are times when their statue is a dead ringer for them, and there are times when the likeness is just a little bit off.

We’re going to run through our favourite famous football statues, and where they can be found.

The Holy Trinity Statue at Old Trafford

Outside Manchester United’s home ground of Old Trafford stands a statue of probably the most legendary trio ever to play at the club. The statue of George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton, and Denis Law stands across from the statue of Sir Matt Busby, one of the club’s most famous managers.

A statue of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton

Photo by Apasciuto / Flickr

Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law continue to be vocal elements in the footballing world, though both have retired from playing and managing. The third member of the ‘Holy Trinity’, George Best, is lovingly memorialised here as he died in 2005.

This is not the only George Best statue though. In 2018, another statue of George Best was erected in his native Northern Ireland which received a fair amount of, probably well deserved, criticism due to its decidedly un-George Best like appearance.

Bobby Moore Statue at Wembley

The Bobby Moore statue at Wembley memorialises one of Britain’s most well known footballers at one of its most iconic grounds. Wembley is the venue of the FA Cup Final, the largest stadium in the UK and the home of English football. Standing outside is the ‘Lord of the Game’.

A statue of Bobbby Moore outside of Wembley

Photo by Carlos Yo / WikiMedia Commons

The 6.1m statue of Bobby Moore was sculpted by Phillip Jackson to honour one of, if not the best regarded British footballers of all time. The plinth has additional sculptures including a depiction of the whole winning team from the 1966 World Cup and a bronze representation of an England International Cap.

Amongst his achievements, Bobby Moore was the first Englishman to lift the world cup, he won the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, the FWA Footballer of the Year, and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1966.

Bill Shankly Statue at Anfield

Arguably the greatest Liverpool manager of all time and one of the sport’s most respected figures, the Bill Shankly statue stands in his iconic pose at the Liverpool FC homeground at Anfield.

A statue of Bill Shankly outside of Anfield in Liverpool

Photo by Rodd Hull / Wikimedia Commons

The statue of Bill Shankly was sculpted by Liverpool artist Tom Murphy and is simply inscribed with his name and the words ‘He made the people happy’.

Under his management, Liverpool FC won two FA Cups, three FA Charity Shields, a UEFA Cup and won the First Division league title three times. Bill Shankly was also an inaugural inductee to both the English and Scottish Football Halls of Fame.

Stanley Matthews statue at the Britannia Stadium

Stanley Matthews has more than one statue standing in his honour. Probably the most impressive is outside the Britannia Stadium in Stoke, a stadium which he opened just three years before his death.

A statue of Stanley Matthews at Britannia Stadium

Photo by Howde / Pixabay

The statue of Stanley Matthews honours not only the man, but the skill he was most famous for. Dubbed ‘The Wizard of the Dribble’, the statue features three snapshots of Stanley Matthews dribbling a football in his own unique style.

Matthews had a long and successful career in the top flight of English football, and is still the oldest player to appear in England’s top division, as well as the oldest player to play in the national team. Upon retiring from playing, he coached less fortunate people from around the world, including an all black team in South Africa during strict apartheid who became known as ‘Stan’s Men’.

Ted Bates Statue at St Mary’s Stadium

There are few people who mean as much to a club as Ted Bates does to Southampton FC. He was a part of their history for sixty-six years where he served as player, manager, board member, director and finally president.

A statue of Ted Bates at St Mary's Stadium

Photo by Peter Face / Geograph

The current statue of Ted Bates at St Mary’s stadium was unveiled in March 2008 and is actually a replacement for the original unveiled a year before.

Fans and pundits alike agreed that the original statue had arms that were too short, and actually looked much more like the former chairman of Southampton’s long time rivals Portsmouth FC, Milan Mandaric.

Bobby Robson Statue at St James’ Park

A fitting tribute for a big character, the statue of Bobby Robson at Newcastle’s home ground, St James’ Park, captures the footballing legend as he was in his managerial career.

A statue of Bobby Robson at St James' Park

Photo by Mick Knapton / Wikimedia Commons

As one of only three managers of the English national team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, Bobby Robson is probably as well respected for his work as a manager as he was for his time as a player.

Bobby Robson inherited his love for football from his father, who would bring him to Newcastle from their home in Durham each week to watch Newcastle United play. While Bobby never played professionally for the Magpies, he did finish his managerial career there and is fondly remembered by the local fans.

Statues aren’t the only way to memorialise people. A memorial garden can be a tranquil place to sit and remember loved ones and with a memorial tree planted there it could be even more meaningful. For something you could keep at home, why not think about a memory box or a memory book that you can develop and enjoy over time.