The ball flies past the keeper into the top corner, sending the entire stadium into a frenzy. How would you react? When a player scores a goal, the spotlight is suddenly thrust upon them, and this results in all kinds of funny, interesting, quirky and bizarre celebrations, which have now become a huge part of what makes football so enjoyable. Some players keep their cool with a nonchalant celebration, whilst others flail their limbs around like a lunatic. Many players see it as the perfect opportunity to show some skin by taking their jersey off (even though everyone knows this is a bookable offense), and others celebrate with rather elaborate, well choreographed routines that involve the entire team.
A goal celebration is an opportunity for a player to get creative and show their personality, and over the years there have been a number of iconic goal celebrations that have been far more entertaining and memorable than the goals themselves. Many of these celebrations have become trademark celebrations for players, while others have been brilliant moments of complete spontaneity. These can help to inspire fans and teammates to go on and win the game, they can aggravate the opposing team and their fans to no end, or they can simply be a light-hearted moment that everyone can sit back and enjoy.
Here is a collection of some of the most inventive, entertaining, controversial and memorable goal celebrations of all time. Some of these celebrations have been used to advertise the game for many years, and a few are even possible to recreate on the FIFA game series, and of course many of these are replicated by kids and adults alike in playgrounds, Sunday leagues and parks around the world.
20 Edmilson Ferreira v America-Belo Horizonte (1998)
Ferreira demonstrated real commitment to his goal celebration by playing a large part of the game with a hidden prop, so you can imagine his relief once he netted against America-Belo Horizonte, or The Rabbits as they are nicknamed. As the Brazilian ran towards the fans, he pulled a carrot from his shorts and began munching on it. This did not go down well with The Rabbits, with one player spitting on Ferreira, before another was sent off for taking him down with a vicious challenge.
19 Fabrizio Ravanelli
The 1990’s were filled with kids running around with their shirts pulled over their heads (and often running into goalposts), all because of "The White Feather." His trademark celebration is one of the most replicated of all time, but this celebration has now been retired by many professionals as it warrants a yellow card, and perhaps also because it could end in tears if you’re not careful. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most iconic and entertaining celebrations of all time.
18 Robbie Keane
Throughout his career, Robbie Keane has proven himself to be a prolific scorer and a highly talented footballer. His fantastic sporting abilities appear to be limited to the pitch however, as his trademark goal celebration is what you might find at kids gymnastic competition. The well executed cartwheel to forward roll (before finishing with pistols) may not impress the likes of high flying Lomana LuaLua, but it certainly entertains the fans and makes the Irishman a fan favorite around the world.
17 Finidi George v Greece (1994)
Knee slides, acrobatic flips, hugging team mates and fist pumping are all classic celebrations, but boring ones in the eyes of Finidi George. After scoring a sublime chip in the 1994 World Cup, the Nigerian surprised everyone when he got down on all fours, crawled and then raised his leg to mimic a urinating dog. Whether or not this celebration has any profound meaning has never been established, but it is certainly one of the more memorable goal celebrations we have witnessed.
16 Emmanuel Adebayor v Arsenal (2009)
When a player scores against their former team, you will often see them not celebrate out of respect for the players, staff and fans. Not Emmanuel Adebayour, however, who saw it as the perfect opportunity to enrage the fans of his former team. When the Togolese headed in a goal for City to put the game to bed, he decided to sprint the entire length of the pitch to slide on his knees and celebrate in front of the travelling Arsenal supporters, who pelted him and attempted to get onto the pitch. And people say he’s lazy?
15 Graeme Souness v Fenerbahce (1996)
Not a player or result of a goal this time, but a manager who struggled to contain his emotions after an big win in the Istanbul derby, one of the most intense rivalries in the world (it was also a cup final). After Souness’s Galatasaray came out 2-1 winners on Fenerbahce’s turf, Souness found a gigantic Galatasary flag at least 3 times the size of the Scotsman, and then proceeded to run to the centre of the pitch and plant the flag in the center circle. A ballsy move from the manager, and a quick way to start a riot.
14 Brandi Chastain v China (1999)
The image of Brandi Chastain celebrating after converting the winning penalty for the USA in the 1999 Women’s World Cup has become an iconic sports image. In a moment of pure adrenaline, she ripped off her shirt and dropped to her knees, clearly overwhelmed with emotion after a tense shootout. The goal and celebration cemented her position as an American hero, with Sports Illustrated, Time and Newsweek all featuring the image as their front cover.
13 Robbie Fowler v Everton (1999)
After converting from the penalty spot in the Merseyside derby, Fowler ran over to the touchline, got on all fours and pretended to sniff the line (although his manager claimed he was pretending to be a cow eating grass…). This was a reaction to the Everton fans claims that Fowler was on drugs. An entertaining and inflammatory celebration, but perhaps not worth the £60,000 fine and 4 game suspension he faced.
12 Alberto Gilardino
Gilardino’s violin celebration has become one of the better known and replicated goal celebrations of all time, with the Italian performing it each time he finds the back of the net. The 32 year old is among the top 15 all time scorers in Serie A and has plenty of goals for his country too, so the violin playing is a common sight, but one that is still a joy to see. This celebration has the class and sophistication to match the game of the veteran striker.
11 Peter Crouch v Hungary and Jamaica (2006)
Everyone has that one friend that can be relied on to pull off embarrassing dance moves in a nightclub, and for the England 2006 World Cup team, this was the 6’7" Peter Crouch. The skinny, long limbed striker performed his robot dance on the international platform during two friendlies, providing a great source of cringe-worthy entertainment for everyone back home. The popular celebration has been retired (aside from a 2010 game against Ukraine), but with Crouch fast approaching 100 Premier League goals, he surely has something special lined up for us.
10 Ruud van Nistelrooy v Andorra (2006)
Van Nistelrooy was left seething after missing a penalty kick against Andorra, where one of the opposing players ran up to him and laughed directly in his face. The Dutchman would have the last laugh though (aside from a booking, which I’m sure he did not mind), as he redeemed himself with a tap in before hunting down the antagoniser, stopping him in his path and celebrating in front of him. Van Nistelrooy enjoyed his revenge and Holland went on to win the World Cup qualifying match a convincing 4-0.
9 Tresor Lomana LuaLua
LuaLua is a player that is more famous for his trademark celebration than his abilities, but it certainly is a celebration to behold. The Congolese winger could have chosen a career in gymnastics if football never worked out, as each time he scores, he performs a number of stunning somersaults. This celebration did not impress LuaLua’s former manager Harry Redknapp, who feared that he would injure himself performing such stunts. Despite a warning from Redknapp, LuaLua went on to perform this celebration and injure himself in the process, while Portsmouth were still in a fierce relegation fight.
8 Stjarnan F.C
This small team from Iceland have become an internet sensation in recent times, but not for their football abilities. Their elaborate, well practiced goal routines, that involve the entire team, have seen them find global fame, with fishing, grenade throwing, giving birth and using the toilet being just a few of their celebrations. They play in the top tier in Iceland in a stadium that has a capacity of just 1000, so you may not see them on TV anytime soon, but their celebrations are sure to put a smile on your face.
7 Paul Gascoigne v Scotland (1996)
After Gascoigne scored his stunning goal in Euro 1996, a celebration of equal shock was needed, and he certainly delivered. Prior to the tournament, he and Teddy Sheringham had been photographed having drinks poured into their mouths in a dentists chair as part of a drinking game. This was condemned by the press, who called for Gazza to be dropped. In reaction to this, Gascoigne lay on his back as Sheringham squirted water into his mouth. It was a slippery slope for Gascoigne from this point, but the sensational goal and cheeky reaction epitomizes why he is such a loved personality in England.
6 Jurgen Klinsmann v Sheffield Wednesday (1994)
For a footballer, there can be no better feeling than silencing your critics, which is exactly what Jurgen Klinsmann managed on his Spurs debut. Before joining the North London club, the German had a reputation for diving, so much so that fans even carried signs with 5.8 and other figures to ‘score’ his dives. The current USA manager reacted brilliantly to this after scoring a fine header against Sheffield Wednesday, by running to the home fans, where he dived onto the floor in front of them for what is now an iconic and much replicated celebration. Luis Suarez performed a similar celebration in front of David Moyes in 2012, and German Lewis Holtby performed the celebration while at Spurs as a sign of respect for one of his heroes.
5 Jimmy Bullard v Manchester City (2009)
This memorable celebration by Bullard and his teammates gets extra points as it was in the pipeline for an entire year. In the same fixture the season before, Hull manager Phil Brown was so irate with his team that he delivered his half time talk to his team on the pitch. Fast forward to 2009 in the same fixture, Bullard equalised from the spot before the team sat in a circle around the goal scorer, who then proceeded to wag his finger at them and give them a good telling off. Fortunately for Bullard and his teammates, Phil Brown saw the funny side of this celebration.
4 Bebeto v Holland (1994)
The cradling arms celebration is one of the more famous celebrations in football, and has been recreated countless time by professionals, kids, and even in video games. It all started with Bebeto, who celebrated a fine goal by also celebrating the birth of his third child, who was born just a few days earlier. Bebeto cradled his arms and ran to the sidelines, where he was joined by his team mates who joined him in rocking an imaginary baby. A joyous moment for the striker was made even sweeter shortly after, as he helped his country to go on and win the tournament. Quite a summer for the Brazilian.
3 Eric Cantona v Sunderland (1996)
It takes a lot to impress Eric Cantona, and the Frenchman amazed himself with a stunning chip that kissed the post and rolled into the back of the net against Sunderland at Old Trafford. Instead of freaking out like most people would, The King simply took in his surroundings as he slowly looked around the rapturous stands, before raising his arms in recognition of what he had just done. The strike itself is often considered one of the best the Premier League has seen, with a celebration to match too.
2 Roger Milla v Romania and Columbia (1990)
The 1990 World Cup may not have been the most exciting, but it was certainly livened up with Roger Milla’s famous goal celebrations. Milla was 38 at the tournament, but this did not stop him from bagging 4 goals, which were then celebrated by dancing with the corner flag. These celebrations captured the essence of his Cameroon team, and reminded the world that football is supposed to be fun and enjoyed. His famous hip wiggle and dance inspired those that came after him to come up with their own individual, unique dance celebrations, which we see so often today.
1 Marco Tardelli v West Germany (1982)
When you score an excellent, decisive goal in the World Cup final, it is impossible to predict how you would react. Marco Tardelli’s legendary celebration did not contain any flips or choreographed moves with team mates. Instead it was a passionate and raw reaction, which still sends shivers down the spine of many football fans. A tearful Tardelli sprints in the vague direction of the Italian bench, screaming and pumping his fists in pure ecstasy. This picture remains an iconic image in the world of sport. A similar image took place at World Cup 2006, after Fabio Grosso scored a decisive goal against Germany in the Semi Finals before weeping in ecstasy.