Sligo artist Dan Leydon has already claimed a Champions League three-in-a-row this season, but now the Liverpool fan hopes Real Madrid stop following in his footsteps.
Leydon has again won BT Sport’s prestigious season-long Champions Draw art contest, his third time beating a host of international illustrators to create promotional artwork for the network’s Champions League final coverage.
He first landed the gig in 2016, when his poster featuring Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone reading ‘The Art of War’ was displayed in venue city Milan and Gareth Bale tweeted his congratulations.
But this season’s work — an Egyptian themed treasure hunt — is closest to his heart, because he desperately hopes the Reds can prise Madrid’s hands off the trophy.
“I think I’m kind of a jinx because every time I’ve won it Real Madrid have won it. But I’m hoping they lose this one.”
Still based in his home village of Strandhill, Leydon studied product design at Sligo IT, but the self-taught illustrator first dabbled in football art when Fernando Torres left Anfield for Chelsea in January 2011.
He tweeted the picture of Torres pushing a wheelbarrow of cash and when he later saw a friend showing the image round the pub, Leydon copped the power of social media to spread his work, set up a blog, and slowly drew a name for himself.
“About a year later I got a job off (journalist) Graham Hunter and I did his Barca book in 2012. That was the first job I ever got and it was brilliant of him to take a chance on me.”
He was still working a part-time job on the slot machines in Strandhill, but it was time to take a punt. And three cherries came up.
From there, he has designed a career for himself as one of the most sought after artists on the lucrative football market.
“I was lucky, The first year I won the Champions Draw in 2016, the week I won it I got work at Juventus, Man City and Optus, who are a massive telecommunications company in Australia who bought the Premier League rights. So that month I was living in the office.”
He has since worked for clients like ESPN, Umbro, and Foot Locker. And earlier this year, he was hired to design artwork for Gatorade’s blockbuster World Cup advert featuring Lionel Messi and Suarez.
Stanley Chow is his artistic inspiration, but Leydon is becoming a hero himself to the droves of budding artists around the globe hoping for a slice of the football action.
“When I started doing it in 2011 there were only about seven or eight fellas doing it. But now there are so many people trying it, which is really good.
“But I still feel like I’m only starting out.
Still, his ambitions remain sky-high.
“You know when NASA send a rocket to Mars and they put little examples of music and stuff on it,” he laughs. “I’d like my art to be on that. Why not?
“Ah, I’m just going to keep going and see what happens,” he added.
He’ll watch tomorrow’s final at home in Strandhill with his mother, “who is a mad Liverpool fan as well.” And, as you’d expect, a talented artist has a clear vision of how things will pan out in Kiev.
“I’ve an image in my head of Mane celebrating a goal and he’s copying the celebration Firmino did when he scored earlier in the match.”
Will two be enough for Liverpool? Draw your own conclusions.
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