Ffion Thomas has used her PhD studies to contribute to a newly released 'world football' database. Currently studying within SSTO's International Football Institute (IFI), Ffion compiled a map of iconic sporting statues from around the world as part of 'From Pitch to Plinth: The Sporting Statues' project.
We spoke to Ffion to find out more: "I graduated from Sheffield University in 2010 and through doing some work for Dr Chris Stride during my degree, got involved in the project. What started as a bit of fun/general interest in the subject (everyone on the project is a football fan) led to compiling a list of all football statues in the UK.
"This then snowballed into four published statue databases - UK sports, world cricket, US baseball and now world football - as well as several academic papers and conference presentations which I've contributed to, along with conducting online research and interviews. Every effort is made to get each location spot on, which can be fairly time-consuming in some of the more obscure locations!
"The project and my interest in the subject contributed to my application to study in IFI where my PhD is on the use of nostalgia and heritage in the visual culture of football, of which the use of statues is one part."
Dr Stride said the erection of statues to sporting greats was a very recent occurrence: "There were just a handful, maybe four or five that had been erected before 1980 and then maybe another 10 before 1995.
"Suddenly there have been around 100 of these statues built of sports people in the last 15 years. The surge in footballers being depicted is mainly down to clubs appealing to nostalgia and basking in the reflective glory.
"Sports people are seen as celebrities, they never used to be. The sort of people who would have been statue subjects, such as politicians and people of the church and royalty are less popular now."