Famous footballers from Messi to Maradona depicted as children by digital artist in Dubai

Jyo John Mulloor is known for his striking works, including a series that imagined snow in the UAE

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"It's as if a time traveller dropped off school ID cards at my doorstep," says artist Jyo John Muloor Mulloor of his latest series, depicting famous footballers as children.

Mulloor, who lives in Dubai, is known for creating striking digital artworks, from reimagining snow in the UAE to placing the country's famous landmarks in Pandora, the fictional planet from the film Avatar. He also went viral with a photo series showing Dubai covered in lush greenery.

His latest series began months before the World Cup as a homage to his favourite footballer Lionel Messi.

"Messi is my all-time hero, so I thought I'd honour him. Then, once we got to the quarterfinals and most of the major teams were in, I changed my plan and did a whole series to include Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe," he tells The National.

Brazilian football star Pele depicted as a child. Photo: Jyo John Mulloor

Mulloor also expanded the series to include some major sporting figures, from Pele to the late Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer and David Beckham, whom he refers to as his "childhood heroes".

Using artificial intelligence software to turn the players into their younger versions, Mulloor then used Photoshop to repaint the photos. The result is a hyper-realistic artwork that he says has been well-received by football fans on social media.

The artist says he scrapped the first version of the project as he was not happy with the result. "I wanted to get that cuteness overload right, and I think I finally achieved it," he says.

Mulloor is from Kerala in South India, a state known for its love of football in a cricket-obsessed country.

He says he's dedicating this football series to Messi.

"I really have one wish and that is to see Messi lift the World Cup this time, as it is his final world cup," he says.

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Updated: December 12, 2022, 12:44 PM