£45k to play for as Windsor Park public art plan unveiled
Football chiefs in Belfast have set their sights on a new signing who is better with their hands than with their feet.
For their goal is to find someone to create a work of art to erect at the rebuilt home of the Northern Ireland team and Linfield FC.
The plan is to install the artwork at an entrance to the National Stadium at Windsor Park.
An open call for tenders has gone out online to artists across Ireland, with the offer of a £45,000 fee for the winning piece.
The tender was published on the website of Visual Artists Ireland (VAI), which represents sculptors and painters across the island.
The project is being co-ordinated by Belfast City Council on behalf of the Irish Football Association and the Department for Communities.
VAI said the theme for the piece will be 'Football and Physics'.
A source said the artwork could be in any nedium, whether a sculpture, mural or series of mosaics.
It is thought that images of former football stars could be incorporated in the designs.
The VAI notice said: "The exact location of the new artwork will be at a new community entrance from Olympia Drive into the Olympia Leisure Centre which is attached to the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
"A limited range of site options are available to artists via the artist's brief, including the opportunity to create the gateway itself." Applications close on February 5.
A mural honouring successful Northern Ireland World Cup finals teams was unveiled on the Shankill Road in Belfast last October.
In Sandy Row, artist Ross Wilson was commissioned to design a mural called 'Weavers to Winners', celebrating the history of Linfield, a club formed in a nearby linen mill.
Up until several years ago paintings of Northern Ireland greats including George Best, Peter Doherty and Danny Blanchflower adorned a railway bridge outside the stadium.
Last year it was announced that a bronze statue of Best was to be erected at Windsor Park. It is being made by sculptors from small Co Down art group Lecale Bronze.
It is giving it as a gift to civic and football authorities.
The statue is the work of artists Tony Currie, Jeremy Flanagan and James G Miles.
But the idea was championed by Best fan Robert Kennedy, who visits his hero's grave every week and has a tattoo of the footballing superstar on his back.
Three years ago Mr Kennedy revealed he had been campaigning for the statue to honour a promise he had made to George's late father Dickie, who once told him he wanted a lasting memorial to his genius son.
Mr Miles said yesterday that the plans for the Best statue would not be affected by the new project.
He said he and his colleagues expected their monument will be placed close to the entrance to the refurbished Olympia Leisure Centre.
Lecale Bronze is planning to finance completion of work on the statue through crowdfunding.