A new sculpture honouring an East Renfrewshire man credited with introducing football to Brazil has been officially unveiled.

Commissioned by East Renfrewshire Council, the bust features Thomas Donohoe, who moved to South America in 1894 to work in the developing cotton industry there.

One of seven children, the keen footballer lived in a number of addresses in Busby, most notably Riverside Terrace.

It is hoped the sculpture will attract visitors to the village, as well as adding to the cultural and sporting links between Scotland and Brazil.

Thomas married his wife Eliza in 1890, by which time he was a well-established print worker alongside his father Patrick, who was a block printer in the local cotton mills.

Most of his siblings also worked in the mills and, following a decline in the fortunes of the industry in Scotland, Thomas emigrated to Brazil, arriving in Bangu, which is now on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

The first football match to be played in Brazil was organised by Thomas and took place in August 1894.

Barrhead News: The Thomas Donohoe sculptureThe Thomas Donohoe sculpture

He then began to organise regular football matches at the Bangu Mill where he worked and staged local competitions with other migrant groups and workplaces.

From these humble beginnings, the game went on to become the premier sport of Brazil, with Thomas playing a key role.

Today, football is a cornerstone of Brazilian culture and the local Bangu team, Bangu Atlético, take great pride in the contribution Thomas made all those years ago – so much so that they commissioned a five-metre-tall statue of him which was unveiled to mark the 2014 World Cup, the final of which took place in Rio.

East Renfrewshire Provost Mary Montague, who unveiled the new sculpture in Busby's Main Street, said it is “only right" that Thomas is honoured in his home town.

She added: "I was delighted to see the finished sculpture here and would encourage anyone visiting Busby to stop by and see Thomas and then discover the great range local businesses have to offer.”

Cash to pay for the sculpture came from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund.

It was designed and created by artist Kate Robinson, whose previous football-inspired works include the Jimmy Johnstone and Brother Walfrid sculptures in place at Celtic Park.

She said: “It was great to make the sculpture of Thomas Donohoe, as it is such an interesting story linking Scotland and South America.

"The mountains of Ben Lomond and Sugarloaf are inscribed beside the flag of Brazil on the back of this sculpture and I hope residents of Busby and visitors enjoy this new feature in the town.”