New Cristiano Ronaldo statue unveiled in India and supporters are split

Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been honoured in India courtesy of a statue which has been erected in the western state of Goa – but fans are split over whether it should have gone up in the first place.

Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game and returned to United for a second spell in the summer.

Football is hugely popular in Goa and officials hope the statue of Ronaldo will inspire young people.

But critics say local players should have instead been recognised, with a string of current and former India internationals coming from the region.

Detractors also point to the fact that Goa is a former Portuguese colony and this year marks 60 years since the state was liberated.

“To erect a statue of a Portuguese footballer this year is sacrilegious,” right-wing activist Guru Shirodkar told the IANS news agency. “We condemn this.

“There are many freedom fighters in Goa who have been insulted.”

A local Goan was also quoted as saying: “Very disappointed to hear of the statue of Ronaldo being erected.

“Learn to take pride in our own icons like Samir Naik and Bruno Coutinho.”

But others are in favour of the statue and have lauded it.

Local lawmaker in the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, Michael Lobo, tweeted a photo of himself with the statue.

“For the love of football and at the request of our youth we put up Cristiano Ronaldo’s statue in the park to inspire our youngsters to take football to greater heights,” he wrote.

Football has become well-liked in a string of states across India, with many people taking an interest in the Premier League and other competitions. But cricket remains the most popular sport in the country.

Ronaldo has won a plethora of trophies during his illustrious career and has continued to excel in the Premier League this season at the age of 36.

The forward won three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Club World Cup during his first spell in England and lifted his first Ballon d’Or under Sir Alex Ferguson.

He then moved to Real Madrid, where he went on to win four more Champions League trophies, another three Club World Cups and two La Liga titles. He also picked up four more Ballon d’Ors in Spain.

He won two Serie A titles during three years with Juventus, before signing for the Red Devils under previous boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ronaldo also won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is the highest international goalscorer in the history of the game after striking an incredible 115 times for his country.