Lisbon - The man behind the grinning and now-infamous bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo said Thursday the Real Madrid superstar liked the sculpture -- but did ask him to remove the wrinkles.
Emanuel Santos defended his work following less-than-flattering reviews on social media after the bust was unveiled on Wednesday at Madeira's international airport, as it was renamed in honour of Ronaldo, the Portuguese island's most famous son.
But aside from the hair, which looked suitably similar, social media ridiculed the bust as nothing like Ronaldo and even called it horrifying.
Sculptor Santos, a former job centre employee, went on the offensive, saying he had received no negative feedback -- and notably almost none from the man himself.
"I had the chance to talk to Cristiano Ronaldo to find out what he thought and he told me he liked it," the Madeira-born Santos, 40, told Portuguese radio station Renascenca.
But Santos did admit that the image-conscious Portuguese talisman had asked him to make some subtle changes before the big unveiling.
"Cristiano only asked me to change some prominent wrinkles which made him appear older, to remove them so as to make it look smoother and happier," said Santos.
Santos said he had to work from photographs, rendering his task that much harder.
"Making a likeness of a public person is a challenge, especially if they are not on hand to take measurements," he added.
"Every work is subject to critics, you can't please the Greeks and the Trojans, a sculpture is a sculpture, a photocopy is a photocopy."
Ronaldo, five thousand fans and Portugal's prime minister and the president were all in attendance at the airport of Madeira, where Ronaldo was born, as it was renamed.
As well as the airport and bust Ronaldo already has a museum and bronze statue in his honour in his birth town of Funchal.