Since March 2017, visitors flying to the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira have been greeted at the airport by a bust of its most famous native son, soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a . . . unique interpretation:

But with little fanfare — at least compared with the howls that greeted its unveiling — the Ronaldo bust was replaced last week at the request of Ronaldo’s family, according to the Madeira Island News.


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Emanuel Santos, the sculptor, has defended his work in the face of global Internet mockery.

“When Ronaldo is happy he has that spontaneous smile, and [those] who know him know that he doesn’t have an uniform smile,” he told Bleacher Report earlier this year. “So there it is, if it didn’t end up 100 percent like him, people have to understand that art is a way to express oneself that contains emotions. It’s not a precise science.

“I liked the result and was really proud of it. And if I had to do it again, I would make everything exactly the same.”

Bleacher Report also commissioned Santos to take another crack at it. It’s an improvement.

The original Ronaldo bust has its defenders, apparently, as an online petition asks that it be returned to its place of honor at the airport, which was renamed after the Real Madrid star last year. The airport director told Madeira Island News that “we have the old one saved,” so there’s still hope.

We consider that the bust is more an attraction for our island today and we cannot accept in any way its replacement,” the petition states. It had 436 signatures as of early Monday morning.

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