Portugal Names Airport After Cristiano Ronaldo

The Real Madrid striker was joined Wednesday by dozens of guests and hundreds of fans in his native Madeira Islands for an official ceremony renaming the local airport as Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 32-year-old Ronaldo is a local hero in Madeira. Here he is seen as a rags-to-riches success. He already has a statue, a museum and a hotel named for him in Madeira.

Portugal names airport after Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.  

Portugal’s president and the prime minister flew to the island and unveiled a commemorative plaque outside the terminal entrance, above an odd-looking bust of Ronaldo that attracted attention. It hardly does the handsome footballer justice. The bronze bust squashes the player’s eyes close together, and the cheeky raised-eyebrow smile more resembles a leer. The face is also unusually chubby, in contrast to Ronaldo’s chiseled looks.

Portugal names airport after Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo  

Ronaldo didn’t seem to be bothered by the look of the bust. But the weird-looking statue quickly went viral on social media. An image of Ronaldo was also added to the airport’s main facade.

The bust’s sculptor, Madeira native Emanuel Santos, said it took him 15 days to create the statue. He said he presented the project to local officials when it was about half done and received the go-ahead to continue with his work.

 Portugal names airport after Cristiano Ronaldo Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo.  

“It’s always a great honor to work on project like that,” Santos told local television channel RTP. “I still haven’t had the chance to personally talk to (Ronaldo). But I’ll try to reach out to him to know his feedback.”

Ronaldo was born in Funchal in Madeira in 1985. He moved to Lisbon aged 12 to continue his football education at Sporting Lisbon, before going on to great success at Manchester United and Madrid, while making a record 138 appearances for Portugal and scoring a record 71 goals.

The name change at the airport, known as one of the windiest in the world. It attracted a lot of attention locally, with some politicians opposing it and saying that the footballer's name should be added to a stadium or another sporting venue.