Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez unveils statue of himself in home city

Gerard Couzens
Standing Tall | The giant statue features the Chile star alongside the crests of his former clubs and Arsenal: Twitter/TocopillaOnline

Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez has unveiled a giant statue of himself in his home city towering above the crests of the sides he has played for including his current club.

The struggling forward - who threw a tantrum after Chile lost 1-0 to Argentina in a crucial World Cup qualifying game on Thursday - was all smiles 24 hours later as he jetted into Tocopilla for the ceremony.

The unveiling in front of hundreds of fans went ahead despite vandals damaging the crest of Chilean side Colo Colo where Alexis made his debut nearly 11 years ago.

Police are still hunting those responsible for the attack, which echoed a similar attack on a Cristiano Ronaldo statue in Madeira in January last year which had Messi's name painted on it.

As well as the iron effigy and giant crests and a large replica of the America Cup which Chile won on a penalty shootout in 2015, the Arsenal frontman also unveiled Hollywood Walk of Fame-style handprints and footprints.

His handprints featured a message said to have been written by the footballer which started: "Never feel sad because someone tells you [that] you can't do something in your life.

"If you have a dream you have to protect it."

He chose a message by boxer Rocky Balboa to accompany his footprints.

Alexis, who is facing ongoing speculation about his Gunners' future, was only at the site for a few minutes.

But he found the time to gift statue creator Marco Vergara the Chile shirt he wore for his country's defeat against Argentina before taking a private jet to the capital Santiago so he could rejoin his teammates to prepare for their next match.

Troubled Sanchez pulled angrily at his shirt as he appeared to lose his rag after Thursday's defeat.

His tantrum followed his removal from the starting XI in a recent defeat to Liverpool and a reported training ground bust-up which Arsene Wenger went on to deny.

Chile - who play Venezuela on Tuesday - now face a real fight to make the 2018 Russia World Cup.

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