The biggest question raised by
Manchester City’s Premier League success is not whether the balance of power in English football has swung decisively from Salford to itself, nor whether throwing money at a team is the only way of guaranteeing success these days. Manchester
No, the key issue is whether or not Roberto Mancini is going to get another tattoo. In 1991 the then-Sampdoria player got the Italian club’s crest tattooed just above his left ankle to celebrate their Scudetto and when recently asked whether he would repeat that if City won the Premier league Mancini replied insightfully “I have another leg”. (Foreigners, eh? Never give you a straight answer.)
These days tattoos are de rigueur for footballers whether it’s, their own name like Fernando Torres (in case he forgets?) or half or full-sleeves which look intricate and beautiful close up or like a large bluey-green splodge if you’re sat in row Z. Several players from both Atlético and Real Madrid have artwork featuring Tengwar the Elvish language invented by JRR Tolkien and I believe Sir Alex Ferguson has just had “Rock of Gibraltar” covered over by an image of an Orc. Ok, I made that bit up but you get the point.
|The man with two legs|
The growth in popularity of tattoos among modern footballers mirrors the rise in their acceptability in society in general demonstrating once again that the sport plays a key role in understanding any society’s culture. Similarly, the history of tattoos in many ways mirrors the history of football. Both have a disparate pre-history before gaining social acceptability among the country’s upper class in the late 19th Century. Then in the early 1900s a shift occurred and both became the preserve of the working class and both were to an extent demonised before, in the latter years of the 20th Century gaining widespread acceptance in the middle class.