A SPECTACULAR bronze statue of Saints skipper Keiron Cunningham was unveiled this afternoon – and the great man admitted it was a humbling experience.

A healthy crowd of Saints supporters and passers by gathered as the wraps came off the imposing sculpture, which stands at Chalon Way, opposite the Glass House pub.

St Helens Council commissioned it to honour the achievements of the town’s rugby league club and the pride the club’s success has generated within the town.

Speaking after the unveiling, Keiron, who was joined by family - including his wife Lynette and children Shannah (15) and Jonah (12) - at the event, told the Star: “The statue is absolutely amazing.

“I can’t stop staring at it – I want to take it home and put it in the back garden and keep it all to myself.

“I want to say a big thank you to the council members and everyone who voted for me, to the sculptor Vanessa (Marston) and all the players who have supported me and have been outstanding.

“There’s a great turnout as well on a Thursday afternoon and there is a lot of people here, which is kindly appreciated.

“It is very humbling. I am immensely proud. I‘ve been a Saints fan since I was six or seven and stood on the terraces watching the club.

“I’ve grown up idolising the players and to be part of that legacy means a hell of a lot to me.

“To be considered alongside some of whom I consider the greats of the club and to win that vote, well…words can’t explain it.

“My family is here today, my two kids have come out of school and it goes without saying they are very proud.

“This is going to be around forever and my kids’ kids and their kids will see this statue of me and my legacy will last forever.”

The 33-year-old added it was a time of mixed emotions coming after the death of his mother Annie in what he said had been a “hell of a couple of weeks”.

He added: “It was due to be my 500th game a couple of weeks ago and I lost my mother on the morning so I didn’t play.

“We buried her and then I played last weekend to reach that massive milestone and now we’ve had this today.”

The grieving Saints legend added: “My mum was my best friend and one of the closest people to me. My dad died when I was 10, so we were so close.

“It would have been great if she had been here today to see this, but tragically though we lost her.”

Prior to the unveiling of the statue, created by sculptor Vanessa Marston, politicians, senior council officials, Saints chiefs and a delegation of players gathered for a reception at St Helens’ World of Glass.

Council leader Brian Spencer told guests the choice of Cunningham for the statue was fitting as “he was the most successful player of the Super League era”.

Eammon McManus, the Saints chairman, thanked the council on the tribute and congratulated Keiron who he described as a “wonderful player who had been the cornerstone of the club for the past decade”.

He added the Saints captain was the “most uncompromising of players in the most uncompromising of sports”.

McManus said he looked forward to the “symbolic” statue moving from its temporary home to the club’s proposed new stadium next year.

He joked to the Saints players gathered for the reception that he would welcome some silverware to go alongside the bronze this season.