Footballers’ heart-breaking tattoos, from Sergio Ramos paying tribute to a dead friend to Marcos Rojo’s Maradona homage

FOOTBALLERS love their tattoos – and some have more meaning than others. Some of the body art inked on to the biggest names in the sport have some very moving stories behind them.

Footballers love their tattoos, and many of them have an emotional meaning behind them
Footballers love their tattoos, and many of them have an emotional meaning behind them
Getty – Contributor

We highlight nine of the most emotional tattoo tributes.


The Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is covered with tattoos, including some amazing numbers on his fingers. The most moving tattoos have ‘The spirit of those dead lies in the memory of those alive’ inked in two parts on his right and left biceps. It is a mark of respect for the victims of the terror attacks on New York on 9/11 2001 and Madrid on 3/11 in 2004. Ramos, 31, also has a large Star of David on his left arm in memory of his close friend and former team-mate Antonio Puerta, who died aged just 22. Puerta, a Spanish international, collapsed and later died while playing for Sevilla against Getafe in August 2007.

Sergio Ramos displays his tattoos including the Star of David on his left arm dedicated to a dead friend
Instagram @sergioramos
Sergio Ramos has a tribute to terror victims across both his arms
Getty – Contributor


Every Argentinian footballer grows up worshipping their greatest ever player – Diego Armando Maradona. And Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo is no different. In tribute to the late football legend who passed away last November, the centre half got a unique design of the Napoli icon on his leg. Rojo’s tat is unique and features an image of Maradona in a cigar-chomping Fidel Castro pose, complete with a communist cap emblazoned with a star. Rojo, 30, chose an image of the late great in a cigar-chomping Fidel Castro pose, complete with a communist cap emblazoned with a star.


Marcos Rojo now has a tattoo of Diego Maradona posing as Fidel Castro on his leg[/caption]


The Man Utd defender had the ink done in tribute to the late great Maradona[/caption]


The Fulham striker Anthony Knockaert, currently on loan at Nottingham Forest, has a tattoo of his late father Patrick. His dad – who worked as a truck driver but made the time to drive him to youth football games – died in 2017, aged 63, and the French star wanted to honour his memory in ink on his chest. Local tattooist Daniel Gulliver, who has worked on several Premier League players, created the image of his dad smiling and smoking a cigar.

Anthony Knockaert with the tattoo to his late father Patrick
Graham Hughes – The Times
Knockaert celebrates promotion to the Premier League with Brighton and shows off his tat
Rex Features
Knockaert’s tattoo of Patrick shows him smoking a cigar
Graham Hughes – The Times

Knockaert said: “It’s all credit to my dad because he did everything for me and I’m here today because of him. “He always believed in me and he was sure I would be playing in the Premier League.”


Bayern star Vidal has plenty of tattoos on his torso – including one of his skin tearing away to reveal a Spiderman outfit – but the most bizarre is that of an insulin pump. He had the work done in 2016 on the right side of his six-pack after his son Alonso was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Arturo Vidal has several tattoos but one on his stomach stands out
Getty – Contributor
Vidal shows off the insulin pump etched on his stomach
Twitter @ kingarturo23

Vidal also posted a photo of the needlework along with a message for Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, calling for children to have better accessibility to diabetes-related healthcare.


The Argentine striker showed off a striking new tattoo of a lion’s head, incorporating his daughter’s names Francesca and Isabella. However a tattoo he had done in 2014 is even more moving, as it incorporates the three children his wife Mauro has with her ex-hubby Maxi Lopez. The tattoo names the three children Valentino, Constantino and Benedicto, and reads: ‘I love these three little angels’. Icardi and Lopez were team-mates at Sampdoria when they fell out over the stunning Wanda.

Mauro Icardi with Wanda and the tattoo of her kids’ names
Instagram @mauroicardi
Maruo Icardi, wife Wanda and their children
Instagram @mauroicardi
Mauro Icardi has a massive lion tattoo on his chest with the names of his children
Instagram @mauroicardi


Nottingham Forest star Harry Arter and his partner Rachel Irwin suffered a heartbreaking stillbirth in December 2015. Their daughter Renee was stillborn and Arter, 27, has a tribute tattoo dedicated to her on the inside of his right forearm. It contains the inspirational words ‘Setbacks pave the way for comebacks’. In 2017 the couple welcomed the arrival of a baby girl named Raine.

Harry Arter has a tattoo to his still born daughter on his right forearm
Getty Images – Getty
The tattoo Harry Arter had created for his stillborn daughter Renee
Getty Images


The tattoos on Firmino’s body are all about love. He has pictures of both his mother and father on his right arm, and a message in German on his back that translates as ‘Unremitting love for the family’. Also on his right arm he has a red rose for love, a four-leaf clover as a sign of luck, a peace symbol on his forearm and the year 1991 on his knuckles – representing the year he was born. The word love is tattooed on the knuckles of his left hand and the name of his daughter Valentina on his chest beside the words ‘God is faithful’ in Greek.

Roberto Firmino with his wife Larissa during a break in Brazil
Liverpool star Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring against Stoke and shows off his ink


Man City’s Brazilian striker has a startling tattoo that documents his rise from the favelas of Sao Paulo. But the most heart-warming one is of his beloved mum Vera on his arm. Strict Vera, who raised her four children alone in a poor district of Sao Paulo, controls almost every aspect of her famous son’s life, from the food he eats to where he goes out, and even the girls he meets. And he celebrates every goal with his trademark phone celebration in honour of Vera.

Gabriel Jesus shows off his tattoo of his mum Vera and the photo that inspired it
Gabriel Jesus with his trademark phone celebration in honour of his mum
Getty – Contributor


The Swedish superstar is covered in inkings but in 2015 he went one stage further and had 50 names of starving people added as temporary tattoos to highlight world hunger.   He whipped off his shirt after scoring for PSG against Caen to reveal names like Carmen, Mariko, Antoine, Lida and Rahma to show his support for the United Nations World Food Programme. He said afterwards: “There are names no one cares to remember.” The referee didn’t appreciate the gesture however and booked him.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic took off his shirt after scoring against Caen to reveal 50 names
AFP – Getty
Zlatan Ibrahimovic later revealed that the names were temporary tattoos
AFP – Getty


Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla so nearly became a national hero at the 2014 World Cup. Chile were drawing 1-1 with hosts Brazil in the final minute of extra time when substitute Pinilla blasted a powerful shot against the home team’s crossbar.

The goal would have put Chile through, but minutes later they went out in the penalty shoot-out. Former Hearts star Pinilla however decided to commemorate the near-miss by having a tat of a ball smashing through the crossbar with the worlds ‘One centimetre from glory’ inked on to his back. Tattooist Marlon Parra said: “What he wanted to do was leave a record of the suffering he’s going through.”

Mauricio Pinilla’s tattoo of his shot shattering the Brazilian bar
AP:Associated Press

Agonising moment Pinilla hit the bar at the 2014 World Cup[/caption]  

Pinilla reacts after missing against Brazil
Getty Images – Getty


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