From the rehearsed to the spontaneous and from the recognisable to the bizarre, the range of football celebrations is startling. It is something needed in a player’s repertoire as the likes of Antonio Valencia are often questioned for their dour non-celebrations. The outlandish celebrations practised by Icelandic side Stjarnan have been an internet sensation but what are some of the most memorable ones? Below are ten of my personal favourites and no marks are awarded for pointing to the heavens or sliding on your knees.
Marco Tardelli – Watch
This enduring moment was known as Tardelli’s scream after the midfielder scored the Italy’s second goal in the 1982 World Cup final. Following his accurate finish from the edge of the box, he ran off to nowhere in particular, unable to comprehend what he had just done. Fast forward to the 2006 World Cup semi-final and compatriot Fabio Grosso did something very similar after breaking the deadlock in extra time against Germany.
At the ripe old age of 38 Milla was one of the stars of the 1990 World Cup, scoring four which were all celebrated by a hitherto unseen wiggle of the hips by the corner flag. Four years later Milla became the oldest ever player to feature at a World Cup and is now credited with inspiring the more extravagant celebrations which followed.
Bebeto – Watch
The Brazilian forward provided one of the memorable moments of that tournament in America. After scoring against Holland in the quarter-final he went to the touchline, put his arms together and rocked an imaginary baby. The new father was joined by team-mates and a classic celebration copied the world over was born. Honourable mention should go to Francesco Totti whose thumb sucking celebration began after the birth of his son.
Pearce’s face after scoring a penalty in the quarter-finals of Euro 2006 was indelible. His uncontrollable roar of joy showed how much his penalty miss at Italia 1990 had hurt. Angry celebrations which show unrelenting emotion have been taken further by Temuri Ketsbaia and Alessandro Del Piero at the 2006 World Cup.
Jurgen Klinsmann – Watch
The German midfielder had a reputation for diving but legitimately went to ground after scoring on his debut for Tottenham against Sheffield Wednesday. He ran to the fans and unleashed a belly flop without the swimming pool. The celebration was an instant hit and was developed by former Blackburn striker Shefki Kuqi who used to get tremendous elevation before the dive.
The prolific Shearer could also reasonably patent his recognisible celebration. A simple raise of the right arm, he then ran over to salute the fans. It was a no nonsense celebration that was short on frills but undeniably his. Considering the number of times he found the net, something more elaborate would have seemed like hard work.
Giampaolo Pazzini – Watch
In comparison to Shearer the Sampdoria and Italy striker has an unmistakable celebration which is shown without fail every time he scores. The former Fiorentina man raises his index and middle finger to his eyes as if to say, ‘did you see that?’ Luca Toni’s ‘did you hear that,’ was the inspiration but this one is uniquely Pazzini’s.
Another highly individual celebration is that of Blackburn’s Benjani. Using his dextrous index finger he points at the adoring crowd thrice before giving a sideways swipe like he is scoring a four in cricket. Rarely seen in the past few years it is believed to be a dedication to the fans, saying ‘I love you, you an you,’ before showing his adoration for everyone. Touching.
Robbie Keane – Watch
In the vein of Peter Crouch’s robotics, Keane’s celebration is so bad it’s good. It is a fitting rebuke to those toned athletes who display their gymnastic skills whilst doing multiple aerial summersaults. There is something endearing and comical about the Irishman’s forward roll/pistol/arrow celebration. It was occasionally spotted at Celtic Park last season.
After scoring from the penalty spot at Eastlands last year, Bullard ran to the fans before remembering his pre-planned celebration. With the aid of his colleagues he recreated Phil Brown’s infamous on-field team talk from the year before. With the other players sat round him, Bullard adopted the role of Brown and gave them a stern finger wagging. Brown was said to be in hysterics.