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.
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.
The Brighton striker Anthony Knockaert 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 last November, aged 63, and French star Patrick wanted to honour his memory in ink on his chest.
Local tattooist Daniel Gulliver, who has worked on several Brighton players, created the image of his dad smiling and smoking a cigar.
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 skin – 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 last year on the right side of his six-pack after his son Alonso, now aged eight, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
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 three years ago 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.
Bournemouth 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 February this year the couple welcomed the arrival of a baby girl named Raine.
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.
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.
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.
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 throught, 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 tatt 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.”
Victor Moses scores on Turkish debut to seal Fenerbahçe win
Victor Moses, former Super Eagles winger, scored on his debut for struggling Turkish Super League side, Fenerbahçe, in their 2-0 win over Goztepe on Friday evening.
The former Chelsea player, Moses, came on for Andre Ayew, scorer of the first goal, in the 64th minute and sealed the win nine minutes later with his first strike in Turkish football.
Fenerbahçe had won only once in seven league games and flirting with relegation before the arrival of Moses, who is looking to reignite his career after being deemed surplus to requirement at Chelsea.
The wing wizard advanced with the ball just inside the opposition’s half, laid it off for Jailson who returned the favour, picking out the galloping Moses in the six-yard box to finish off the move he started.
The former Wigan player only played twice for the London club since the arrival of coach Mauricio Sarri, and the 28-year-old forward had to join the former Turkish League champions on an 18- month loan deal late in the January transfer window.
Victor Moses abruptly retired from the Super Eagles to focus on his club career but it is hoped that a return to regular club football could make him return to the national team.
Messi, Maradona plead for Sala search to continue
Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona have joined calls to resume the search for the missing plane carrying Cardiff striker, Emiliano Sala.
Guernsey Police called off the search for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on Thursday afternoon, but the player’s former club Nantes led calls from across football for it to be resumed.
Barcelona star Messi added his voice to the cause on Friday, writing on his Instagram story, said: “As long as there are still possibilities, a hint of hope, we ask you please continue to look for Emiliano.
“I send all my strength and support to his family and friends. #PrayforSala.”
Another Argentinian football superstar, 1986 World Cup winner Maradona, also posted on Instagram pleading for the search to continue, with the message: “Hope never dies.”
Neymar gets new lover
Neymar has sparked new rumours regarding his love life after being pictured alongside a Brazilian model, Mari Tavares.
The PSG ace has been single since his tumultuous relationship with long-term partner Bruna Marquezine ended in October.
With Ligue 1 entering a winter break, Neymar enjoys a short festive holiday – and also experiments with new looks having revealed his fake dreadlocks recently.
And while spending Christmas back in his native Brazil, he fuelled romance rumours after being spotted alongside a 20-year-old model Mari Tavares at a party.
The bombshell is an active Instagram user where she often shows off her stunning curves and tattoos to her 175,000 followers.
And although the pair have not been seen showing affection to each other yet, in Brazil Tavares is already thought to be Neymar’s next lover.
The 26-year-old winger has been single since breaking up with his long-term partner Bruna Marquezine in October.
Neymar had been involved in an on-and-off relationship with the 23-year-old Brazilian actress and model for six years before ending it in October.
The Brazil ace was rumoured to have cheated on his ex with a soap opera actress Giovanna Lancellotti, but laughed off the speculations.
It was claimed the couple were at odds over politics ahead of a heated presidential election but Marquezine denied it.
She said: “It was his decision. I am going to ask that this issue isn’t prolonged because normally I don’t speak about my personal life.
“I have a lot of respect and affection for him and for everything we went through together.
“I just want to clear this point up, because we are living through a critical and dangerous time, a time with a lot of hate and no, the breakup had nothing to do with that [politics].”
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