To footballers and fans throughout the world, eternal glory and a perpetual space in the hearts and minds of millions could be just a well-placed kick or an inspired goal-saving lunge away.
For others, eternal glory may mean a few hours in an artist’s chair, getting their likeness tattooed onto a rabid fan’s bicep.
Yes, the World Cup is a time for legends to be born and nations to voice their pride and collective support for a couple dozen of their country’s finest. With such a rabid fan base, it’s only natural for some to want to declare their allegiances permanently.
We can look to Exhibit A, a Dutch fan who, after just two victories in the month-long tournament, elected to get the image of manager Louis van Gaal tattooed on his back—along with a celebrating Robin van Persie sliding beneath him. A grand tribute to an even great chapter in World Cup lore, considering van Persie scored one of the most spectacular goals we’ve seen in recent memory.
Ink-worthy tales from the pitch aren’t just born of moments of glory. No, a man’s all time low can earn tattooed depiction as well, like this hilarious—albeit puzzling—depiction of chomp-happy Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez as Hannibal Lector.
True, the wounds of defeat can sting, but the tattoo Twitter user @Jordan_Coombe got of the wound Suarez inflicted on poor Giorgio Chiellini might have stung just a little more.
Still, you need to appreciate the twisted creativity that compelled this guy to say “Yeah, give me an autographed imprint of Luis Suarez’s teeth marks on my shoulder,” to his undoubtedly amused tattoo artist. While that bite may have cemented an unfortunate legacy for Luis Suarez in World Cup history, it’s arguable no greater memorial to this Mike Tyson-esque miscue will ever be commissioned again.
Unless of course, you count the massive statue of Zinedine Zidane headbutting Italian player Marco Materazzi erected in Qatar last year. Will the vicious attacks on players from Italy's national team ever end?
The World Cup is indeed an event steeped in a heritage of unforgettable moments. But what about the moments better forgotten? The moments of heartbreak? Of coming up short in the times it matters most?
Chile’s Mauricio Pinilla came extremely close to becoming a national hero, but the most beautiful game became the game of inches when his shot ricocheted off the top post in extra time, leaving the game open for opponent Brazil to win when the match went to penalties.
Though Chile missed the chance to go to the quarterfinals as well as land a victory over what is arguably considered to be one of the world’s best teams, Pinilla ensured their accomplishments would never go unforgotten by getting the miss inked on his back.
The footballer also got the words “One centimeter from glory” tattooed just beneath it. Pinilla wasn’t content with stopping there. As a testament to pride in his team’s accomplishments, he got tattoos saying “Blessed” and “For Life” in script-style calligraphy along the hairline by his temples.
The final two games World Cup will no doubt yield many more great moments to be forever cemented in the lexicon of athletic prowess, but for many of us, its history--and the legacies of its participants--will forever be etched in ink.