MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nowhere has the rise in personal expression through body art been more prominently displayed than in the world of professional sports. And rarely has there been a higher profile stage for players to parade their tats than the 2014 World Cup.
Maybe it’s because so many of them are prone to doffing their jerseys in celebration, but we couldn’t help but notice how many of this year’s players are sporting not just bits and pieces of artwork, but full body canvasses of impressive magnitude.
Here are 11 of the most magnificently inked fútbol players we’ve seen on the pitch.
This list is alphabetical, but even if we ranked them out, Danish star Daniel Agger might rank at or near the very top, based on the level of enthusiasm he takes in tattoo culture. He ought to; he is also a tattoo artist on the side.
Brazilian player Dani Alves has poured quite a lot of his family history into his tattoos, including his son’s name across his chest. It’s got to be a pretty long history, given the spread of all that art.
Kevin-Prince Boateng may have been suspended from Ghana’s team midstream at the World Cup for “verbally abusing” the coach, but there’s no denying the pride he takes in his artwork. One of his arms features a map of Ghana.
Australia’s Tim Cahill flaunts a traditional Samoan sleeve, which according to reports symbolizes the maternal side of his family tree.
For some reason, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard opts to keep his magnificent artwork mostly covered up on the field. On the other hand, if we had all that stunning ink on our own person, we’d probably get distracted too.
Nigel de Jong
Reportedly committed to skin by Ade Itameda, Dutch player Nigel de Jong’s tats include some stunningly intricate tribal designs.
Are you kidding me right now? Portuguese footballer Raul Meireles’ body isn’t just a canvas. It’s a Times Square billboard. Anyone can do full arm sleeves, but you know someone’s truly crossed over to the other side of tattoo fandom when they sleeve an entire leg.
Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou’s arms are both adorned by intricate black-and-gray work.
Stunningly handsome Spanish player Sergio Ramos’s proclivity for removing his shirt may be all for show, but we’re not mad at him. Not with all that going on. Also, though they’re eye-catching, many of his tats are in honor of his parents, siblings, and the victims of the two terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and (in Spain) on March 11, 2004.
This Dutch player’s tattoos are relatively new (he had very few of them just a few years ago), which means that the boldly graphic approach on his sleeve is very much state of the art work.
No doubt about it, Jack Wilshere’s tattoos carry church within their lines. You can see him discuss their meanings in the video below.