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Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Beckham meets Buddha
David Beckham
The statue shows Beckham before his "short, Beck and sides"
A David Beckham fan in Thailand has taken worshipping the football star to a new level - immortalising him in a Buddhist temple.

Football has become a religion and has millions of followers

Senior monk, Chan Theerapunyo

The fan placed his sculpture of the Manchester United player in Bangkok's Pariwas temple, in a spot normally reserved for minor deities.

The 0.3 metre (1 foot) high statue - in shimmering gold leaf - stands at the foot of the main Buddha image, next to about 100 other statues.

Beckham is shown in his official kit with a full head of hair - before his $470 "short, Beck and sides".

Sacrilege worry

The effigy has sparked controversy among the country's Buddhists however, with some questioning whether it is sacrilege.


Beckham
Beckham has an angel tattoo
The local abbot has defended the statue, saying football - like Buddhism - is a religion.

"Football has become a religion and has millions of followers," the temple's senior monk, Chan Theerapunyo.

"So, to be up-to-date, we have to open our minds and share the feelings of millions of people who admire Beckham."

He added: "This is contemporary art and we want the people of this and the next generation to know what was going on in the year 2000."

Chan said the Beckham fan, sculptor Thongruang Haemhod, made the image to keep the memory of the football star alive for the next thousand years.

Guardian angel

The deification of football stars is nothing new.


Cantona
A controversial painting of Cantona also sparked controversy
Eric Cantona, the former Manchester United captain, was depicted as Jesus in a painting in Manchester's City Art Gallery.

Beckham recently revealed that he had had an image of an angel tattooed across his shoulder blades.

Magazine photos showed the tattoo to be a figure wearing a loin cloth, with its head bowed and arms fully outstretched.

Beckham said the image was "not a crucified figure - it's a guardian angel".

"The guardian angel can also mean 'free spirit', which was an idea I liked," he said.

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See also:

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18 Mar 00 | UK
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