Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Fine Art Of The Goal Celebration

Who knows where it all started?

Charlie George lying flat out on the Wembley turf after firing the winner for Arsenal against Liverpool in the 1971 FA Cup Final?

Most celebrations are modest and merely involve the goalscorer being congratulated by team-mates, however over recent years the amateur dramatics of the modern day goalscorer has become almost as momentous as the art of scoring itself, as players & teams alike try to outshine their colleagues whether it be within their own club or that of another.

Players must spend hours thinking up, then rehearsing or practicing their celebrations and routines!

In many cases these celebrations don't involve just the goalscorer, on occasions the entire team get involved in complicated routines.

Perhaps the most bizarre team routine was Chelsea's reproduction of a classical painting following a goal by Roberto de Matteo.

One of the most memorable choreographed celebrations came when Paul Gascoigne scored against Scotland during the Euro 96 championships. He lay on his back while other England players (including Teddy Sheringham and Gary Neville) grabbed water bottles from the touchline and poured water into his open mouth. This celebration mimicked a controversial pre-tournament incident when England players were photographed in a nightclub, sitting in a dentist's chair having alcoholic drinks poured down their throats.

The 1982 World Cup saw one of the most memorable celebrations of all-time from Italian midfielder Marco Tardelli after he scored Italy's second goal against West Germany in the final. With tears in his eyes, he sprinted into his own half, fists beating against his chest, tears pouring down his face, screaming his name as he shook his head wildly. This is also called the 'Tardelli cry.'

Another famous celebration, especially in the United States, is the shirt-stripping moment by American Brandi Chastain after she converted the winning penalty in the 1999 Women's World Cup final against China. The image of Chastain with her shirt off and revealing her toned tummy and her sports bra, immortalized on the covers of Time, Newsweek, People, and Sports Illustrated, is one of the most famous in women's sports history.

In 2006, Peter Crouch's 'robo-kop' goal celebration became a fad across England, and at the same time added a new and grim chapter to the annals of terrible goal celebrations.
His 'robot dance' which was first unveiled after the Liverpool striker scored England’s third goal in a friendly against Hungary, was supposedly a reprise of Crouch’s 'performance' on the dancefloor at the Beckhams' gala party the previous weekend.
The call from 'Strictly Come Dancing' was, one presumes, not forthcoming.

Other famous celebrations in England include the Aylesbury United team, nicknamed The Ducks, going down on their knees, and waddling in a line, with their elbows flapping.

Basir "Bas" Savage of Brighton & Hove Albion celebrates by performing either the standard moonwalk, the moonwalk 360 or the side glide. This has gained him a regular spot on TV's Soccer AM with the section 'I Wanna be like Bas.'

Craig Bellamy of Liverpool celebrated his goal against Barcelona, simulating a golf swing, due to media speculation into a fight between him and teammate, John Arne Riise, at a karaoke night near their training ground in Portugal, where he allegedly tried to hit Riise with a golf club.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane has one of the more distinctive goal celebrations in the modern game, running to one side of the field to perform a round-off to a front somersault on the pitch, ending on one knee, and then mimicking the firing of a rifle or an arrow from a bow after he scores.

Australian players sometimes 'box' the corner flag, Rocky style, in celebration of a goal. Most notably Tim Cahill, who ran to box the corner flag when he scored Australia's first ever World Cup goal in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Now you can witness the Cahill celebration anytime he scores for his club side Everton.
The corner flag is often used by players to celebrate a goal. Roger Milla the Cameroon International famously used to dance around the flag, while Lee Sharpe posed around the corner flag after scoring, using it as a microphone as he mimed to a song in celebration.

A player rocking his arms from side to side, as though rocking a baby, usually signifies that the scorer recently became a parent, whether or not for the first time. This is a classic celebration, a beautiful moment of tender paternal in the midst of the maelstrom of a World Cup tournament match!
Brazil striker Bebeto’s baby-rocking celebration of his goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup finals is condemned not for itself, but for the license it gave every footballer who has managed to procreate, to burden us with their indecorous familial bliss. And as we all know, there is nothing worse than other people’s babies. The whole genre, however, was redeemed by Fred, Lyon’s Brazilian striker, who during a Champions League game at last gave it a different spin by concealing a 'dummy' in his shorts, which he promptly stuck in his mouth upon scoring.

'Diving' onto the pitch with arms and legs outstretched. Supposedly first done by Jürgen Klinsmann, shortly after he joined Tottenham. Klinsmann was actually performing this goal celebration to satire his own (in his belief unjustified) reputation for diving to win free-kicks and penalties. It became known as 'doing a Klinsmann.'

Albanian-born Finnish striker Shefki Kuqi jumps with arms open wide in the air and then falls down in the grass, landing heavily.

There are some celebrations which are distinctive if only for the fact they are banal and monotonous.

Such celebrations include:
The scorer putting a finger to his mouth, as if telling the (opposition) crowd to be quiet.
The scorer putting his hand to his ear, taunting the opposing supporters for having suddenly gone silent following his goal.
The scorer kissing the club badge on his or her shirt, to show his or her love for the club.

In recent seasons, The Football Association have tried to crack down on some of the more enthusiastic celebrations in the FA Premier League. If a player incites the crowd and/or takes his shirt off after scoring a goal he is likely to get booked by the referee (e.g., Bastian Schweinsteiger during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Marlon Harewood for West Ham after scoring in the 2006 FA Cup Semi-Final against Boro, and Carlos Alberto Gomes during the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final, to name but a few).

This can cause huge controversy if the player has already been booked, since he would then be sent off. Similarly, in American women's soccer at school and collegiate levels, the practice of taking the shirt off to celebrate a goal (made popular by Brandi Chastain), has been prohibited.
However, some players get around this rule by pulling the hem of their shirts over the head, without taking the shirt off entirely, but this is not always overturned by the referees as shown by Italian Stefano Farina, referee of the 28th October 2006 famous Milan Derby which Inter won 4-3 away in San Siro, he gave Marco Materazzi a second booking and thus a red card for doing that exact act after Materazzi gave Inter a 4-1 lead over Milan.

Jumping into the crowd is also a bookable offence ('deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission', as identified in Law 12), one which caused Arjen Robben to be sent off in a Premier League match in 2006. Shevchenko and Carlos Tevez also got booked when both dived into the crowd in Premier League games in 2007.

In 1999 former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler was fined £60,000 by his club and the FA Premier League for having celebrated his penalty goal against Everton by getting down on all fours and miming the snorting of cocaine off of the white touchline. Although it was seen as Fowler's response to being accused of drug abuse in the tabloid press, then-manager Gérard Houllier famously claimed that he was merely imitating 'a cow eating grass' which, Houllier claimed, teammate Rigobert Song had regularly joked about in training.

If you click on the 'article title' at the top of this piece you can view a short video compilation of varied goal celebrations from the sublime to the ridiculous & in some cases downright dangerous!
'Artists' include: Kanu, Gazza, Crouch, Bellamy, Cahill, Cisse, Fowler & Robbie Keane.

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