The Five Most Famous Goal Celebrations of All-Time

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Soccerlens takes time out to reflect on the most glorious and visceral expression of footballing joy – the goal celebration. We look at some of the most famous goal celebrations of all time. Have a look, then join in the discussion.

The Most Memorable

Marco Tardelli – Italy v West Germany, World Cup Final, 1982

One of the most iconic celebrations in football history, Marco Tardelli’s goal to put Italy 2-0 up in the 1982 World Cup final displayed all the raw emotion of the moment as the Italian striker was overcome with delight.

With the sheer ecstasy of a man who had just achieved the wildest dreams of his childhood etched across his face, Tardelli sprinted dementedly around the pitch, clenched fists pumping and screaming in unadulterated delight. To watch Tardelli’s triumph is to see the true passion football is capable of inducing encapsulated in one simple, euphoric moment.

The Most Outrageous

Robbie Fowler – Liverpool v Everton, Premier League, 1999

Robbie Fowler has never been known as the subtlest of men, but his line-snorting celebration in the Merseyside derby of 1999 was a fairly outrageous – albeit darkly comic – exploit even for the man known affectionately as “God”.

Having tucked away a penalty to level the game at 1-1, Fowler proceeded to get down on all fours and “snort” the by-line in front of the Everton fans. It didn’t take an awful lot of imagination to realise what the Anfield hero was miming, and the narcotics-based jape got Fowler in a good deal of trouble with the footballing authorities, the FA hitting the striker with a £60,000 fine.

Dodgy celebration aside, the funniest part of the whole saga was Gerard Houllier’s attempted explanation of his player’s actions. According to the Frenchman it was a “grass-eating celebration” introduced to Fowler by Cameroonian defender Rigobert Song. I’m sure it was, Mr Houllier, I’m sure it was.

The Funniest

Peter Crouch – England v Hungary, Friendly, 2006

“The Robot” – in the wrong hands it is an embarrassing 1980s dance routine capable of making even the most accomplished of movers look ridiculous. When deployed by Peter Crouch, however, The Robot transforms into a devastating satirical tool and has quickly become one of the most popular images in football.

First unleashed after Crouch netted the third goal in England’s 3-1 friendly win over Hungary in 2006, seeing a 6ft 7in man resembling a twig perform a smoothly futuristic boogie caused football fans across the world to laugh in befuddled amusement. If “Crouchie” wasn’t already a cult hero before this celebration, he certainly was after it. It’s just a shame that he seems to have removed it from his post-goal armoury in more recent times.

The Strangest

Temuri Ketsbaia – Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers, Premier League, 1998

Temuri Ketsbaia was a fan’s favourite during his time at St James’ Park for his undying commitment to the Newcastle cause and his often bizarre quirks of personality. Despite his popularity amongst Magpies fans, none of them had quite realised the extent of the Georgian’s endearing insanity before he went absolutely mental after scoring against Bolton Wanderers in 1998.

Having emphatically hammered the ball into the net in the final minutes after a scrappy goalmouth scramble, Ketsbaia proceeded to rip of his shirt, throw it into the crowd and attack the advertising hoardings unlucky enough to be within range of his wildly swinging right boot. Whether or not Ketsbaia is a vehement anti-capitalist I don’t know, but it is quite a cathartic experience to see the McDonalds and Adidas boards getting an absolute pummelling during the Georgian’s fit of rage. It later transpired that Ketsbaia had been incensed about his omission from the starting line-up and had staged the extraordinary outburst as a way of voicing his displeasure at being made to sit amongst the substitutes. Message received.

The Worst

Fabian Espindola – Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles Galaxy, Major League Soccer, 2008

For the more athletic footballers out there, pulling a few somersaults after you’ve scored is a great way to entertain the fans and show everyone just how sprightly you are. When done well, acrobatics can look spectacular, but when players get it wrong they can have disastrous consequences as Real Salt Lake’s Fabian Espindola discovered to his cost last year.

During a match against LA Galaxy last season, Espindola had the ball in the back of the net and ran away to the fans to commence his traditional back-flipping celebration, but the forward got it all wrong and landed awkwardly on his ankle. It took him a few moments to realise that he’d actually done himself some serious damage, but he was later diagnosed with a broken ankle, an injury which kept him out of the game for a full two months. To make matters worse, Espindola’s celebration had been a little premature as the goal had actually been ruled out for offside without him realising. That’s probably as good a definition of “egg on face” as you’re likely to find.

Honourable Mentions

Bas Savage (

Moonwalking? In football boots? Someone give this guy a medal.

Eric Cantona (

Collar up, chest puffed out and looking imperiously around the ground. The King in his prime.

Bebeto (

First unveiled at the 1994 World Cup, we have the Brazilian striker Bebeto to thank for the host of awful baby-related celebrations that we’ve had to endure for the last fifteen years. Did he really have to do that?

More Goal Celebrations

The second best part of scoring a goal is celebrating it in front of thousands of fans (first being actually scoring it). Over the years, we have seen many types of goal celebrations including dancing, somersaults, rocking the baby, using thumb as a pacifier, etc. Here’s a compilation of some of the funniest moments:

And then sometimes celebrations don’t go according to the plan, like here:

and here:

Share your favourite goal celebration moments / videos in the comments below.

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  1. Victor Li 27 November, 2009
  2. Sunny Tan 29 November, 2009
  3. trstra 29 November, 2009
  4. Taavi 30 November, 2009