Goal celebration

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A player celebrating after scoring a goal.
Group hug after scoring a goal.
Steven Gerrard celebrating a goal.

In association football, a goal celebration is the practice of celebrating the scoring of a goal. The celebration may be performed by the goalscorer (most notably), his or her teammates, the manager or coaching staff and/or the supporters of the team. Whilst referring to the celebration of a goal in general, the term can also be applied to specific actions, such as a player removing his shirt or performing a somersault.


Goal song[edit]

A goal song or goal celebration music is a piece of music, lasting about 30 to 45 seconds long, that is played in sports like football or ice hockey after a goal is scored. A goal horn sometimes sounds before the song is played, especially in the National Hockey League (NHL).

A well-known goal song is Bellini's "Samba de Janeiro," which is played after each Bolton Wanderers goal when they play at home and was used as the goal song in UEFA Euro 2008. In North America, "Rock and Roll (Part Two)" of the Glitter Band is also a popular goal song. When played as a goal song, the fans chant out "Hey!" along with the chorus.

In ice hockey, the use of goal songs is very popular. Prior to 2012, a goal by the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, on home ice, is followed by U2's "Vertigo."[1] The New York Rangers play the song "Slapshot," which was written by Ray Castoldi, the music director at Madison Square Garden. The Chicago Blackhawks play "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis after every home goal.

Donbass Arena, the home ground of football club Shakhtar Donetsk, has a tradition of playing music each time home players score goals, with a track corresponding to the nationality of a scorer. For example, "Sabre Dance" by the Armenian Aram Khachaturian was played whenever his compatriot Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored, a song that became very popular in Donetsk due to Mkhitaryan's high goal-scoring rate.[2][3]

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes is played whenever A-League club Melbourne Victory and Bundesliga club Bayern Munich scores a goal.[4][5][6]

Common celebrations[edit]

  • The scorer running away from teammates who wish to embrace or congratulate him.[7][8][9]
  • A giant group hug of the players on the pitch with the scorer underneath, or the players jumping on each other shoulders.[10][11][12]
  • The scorer banging with a fist on his chest.
  • The scorer opening up his mouth as wide as possible as if he was lying in the dentist's chair, this is usually done while running on the field very fast. It was used many times, if not at all times, by Filippo Inzaghi.
  • The scorer turning his wrist near his ear, this is usually done while running. It was used many times, if not at all times, by Luca Toni.
  • The scorer diving onto the grass with arms and legs outstretched. This was supposedly first done by Jürgen Klinsmann, shortly after he joined Tottenham Hotspur. Klinsmann was actually performing this goal celebration to satirise his own (in his belief unjustified) reputation for diving to win free-kicks and penalties. It became known as "a Klinsmann."
  • The scorer walking or running away in a nonchalant style with a "cocky" smirk on their face as if to say, "I'm the best, that was easy, etc." Another adaptation of this involves the scorer standing still and turning or looking around with said look. This was made famous by Eric Cantona while at Manchester United, and later by Zlatan Ibrahimović.
  • The scorer kissing the ring finger. Married players are saluting to their wives with this celebration.
  • The scorer outstretching both arms and running around changing the angle of arms mimicking an aeroplane. This was made famous by former Brazilian striker Careca and later earned Vincenzo Montella his nickname of "little aeroplane" (l'aeroplanino in Italian).[16]
  • The scorer rocking his arms from side to side, as though rocking a baby.[17]This usually signifies that the scorer recently became a parent, whether or not for the first time. This was made well known by Brazilian striker Bebeto (joined by teammates Romário and Mazinho) at the 1994 FIFA World Cup after his quarter-final goal against the Netherlands.
  • The scorer putting the ball underneath his/her shirt to indicate the pregnancy of a loved one.
Steven Gerrard celebrates a goal with teammates.
  • The scorer sucking his thumb as a tribute to his child(ren), over the years this has become a trademark celebration of Roma legend Francesco Totti.
  • The scorer pointing towards the skies, either to express gratitude to a deity or to reference a person who is deceased.[18][19]
  • The scorer putting his hands behind his ears as if to listen to the reaction of the crowd more. This is usually done when a player is getting booed during the game and then scores, or if a player returns to score against his former club. Rarely, this celebration is aimed at club staff, players or officials for various internal reasons.
  • The scorer exhibiting some kind of dancing after the goal, usually joined in by teammates. The first player gaining worldwide notoriety with this was probably Cameroon veteran Roger Milla on the 1990 FIFA World Cup, who celebrated all his four goals by dancing around the corner flag. Peter Crouch garnered attention for his robot dances after scoring goals for England.
  • The scorer performing some kind of acrobatic routine after the goal. Nigerian footballers are well known for performing backflips after they score a goal, this includes a very famous one performed by Julius Aghahowa[17] at the 2002 FIFA World Cup after he scored a goal against Sweden. Lomana LuaLua was banned from performing backflips by his then-club Portsmouth after injuring one of his feet during a celebration.[20]
  • The scorer removing his shirt. However, doing so often results in a yellow card, depending on the rules of the league. Andrés Iniesta was so punished for his celebration in the 2010 World Cup Final.
  • The scorer picking up the ball and running to the centre circle to put the ball down on the spot. It is generally used by teams that are losing and need a goal to win/draw the game.
  • The scorer imitating to shoot with some kind of weapon, either aiming towards the sky or to some other virtual target. Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane regularly performs a forward roll and finishes by mimicking an archer.[21]
  • Teammates congratulating to the scorer by kneeling down and pretending to shine his shoe.[22]
  • Some Muslim scorers prostrate themselves (sujud) to thank their God.[23]
  • The scorer saluting the crowd.[24]
  • The scorer jumping and punching the air.[25]
  • The scorer jumping into the crowd. This is commonly done whenever a very significant goal, such as an injury-time winner, is scored, an example being Troy Deeney's last-minute goal for Watford against Leicester City in 2013, sending Watford to a Wembley Play-Off Final.[28]
  • Some players who have tattoos on their wrists or forearms will often kiss them to show respect to whoever or whatever the tattoo symbolizes. Spanish striker Álvaro Negredo is an example,[31] as is the Uruguayan Luis Suárez. [32]
  • "The Thierry Henry" or "Henrying" was made famous by prolific Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who would celebrate simply by propping himself up against the goal post while another hand on the hip, hinting that he's tired and/or tired of scoring goals, and has a "been there, done that"-type of reaction. This immediately went viral in social networks, using the pose to photoshop Henry into appropriate settings, from propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to helping Muhammad Ali with his punching bag. [33]
  • The scorer blowing a kiss to the crowd.[43][44]
  • The scorer pointing to the crowd.[45][46]
  • The scorer kissing the club/national badge on his or her shirt, to show his or her love and loyalty for the club/country.[47]

Memorable celebrations[edit]

  • Italian midfielder Marco Tardelli, after scoring Italy's second goal against West Germany in the 1982 World Cup Final, sprinted into his own half, shaking his fists against his chest, tears pouring down his face, screaming "goal!" as he shook his head wildly. This is also called the "Tardelli's scream" or "l'urlo di Tardelli" in Italian.[48]
  • The 1982 World Cup also saw the usually-quiet Falcão running the pitch screaming with both his hands raised after scoring Brazil's second goal against Italy.[49]
  • At the 1994 World Cup, Diego Maradona of Argentina ran towards one of the sideline cameras shouting with a distorted face and bulging eyes after he scored against Greece. This turned out to be Maradona's last international goal for Argentina; he tested positive for ephedrine and never played for his country again.[50]
  • A memorable choreographed celebration occurred when Paul Gascoigne scored for England against Scotland during the Euro 1996 championships. He lay on his back while his teammates 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.[51]
  • After scoring a chipped goal against Sunderland in 1996, Eric Cantona of Manchester United celebrated by standing still on the spot, raising his arms aloft, holding his chest out and presenting a blank expression.[52]
  • Six years after missing a crucial penalty in the shootout of the 1990 World Cup semi-finals against Germany, England's Stuart Pearce finally stepped up to take another kick in the Euro 1996 quarter-finals penalty shootout against Spain. He converted his attempt and celebrated with an emotional screaming outburst in front of an ecstatic Wembley crowd.[53]
  • In a 1997 Premier League match between Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle player Temuri Ketsbaia repeatedly and angrily kicked the advertising hoardings at the side of the pitch after ripping off his top and throwing it into the crowd, as well as aggressively pushing away the Newcastle players who tried to hug him in celebration of the goal.[52]
  • Ian Wright was chasing Cliff Bastin's record of 178 goals for Arsenal, and in a Premiership game against Bolton, Wright scored and took off his shirt to reveal a vest underneath with the slogan "Just Done It" (referring to beating the record, and Just Do It, the slogan of Wright's sponsor Nike). Wright had only equalled the record, however, and not beaten it but would score again just five minutes later to break the record and he revealed the vest again, this time correctly.[54]
  • At the 1998 World Cup, Denmark's Brian Laudrup scored the equalizer against Brazil, then ran to the sidelines and lay down on his side leaning his head on his elbow, as if he had been on the beach.[50]
  • In 2001, Emile Heskey made famous the putt celebration when he "made it five" in England's famous 5–1 win away in Germany. This was of course accompanied by the DJ celebration, as seen by many players nowadays. This 5–1-winning England squad also included Michael Owen, who scored a hat-trick and celebrated with the finger, as made famous by Nick Powell.
  • In September 2009, then-Manchester City forward Emmanuel Adebayor played against his old club Arsenal. His old fans had been shouting offensive chants at Adebayor throughout the match, and when he scored a header in the second-half, he ran the length of the pitch and slid on his knees in front of his old supporters.
  • In February 2011, Scott Brown celebrated his equalising goal in Celtic's 2–2 draw with Rangers by turning to opposition player El Hadji Diouf with his arms outstretched, giving him a vacant stare as if he was taunting him.[56] The celebration, known as "The Broony," has since become a gesture of affection towards Brown by the Celtic support.[57] He was subsequently booked for the incident, however, as it was viewed by the referee as an attempt to antagonise Diouf given the Rangers players' objectionable reputation in British football.[58]
  • In February 2011, Andrey Arshavin scored the winning goal for Arsenal against Barcelona in the first of two legs for the round of 16 of that season's UEFA Champions League knockout stages. To celebrate, Arshavin revealed a shirt with a picture of the player celebrating scoring a goal.
  • After scoring a goal against Manchester United in October 2011, controversy-plagued player Mario Balotelli raised his jersey to reveal an undershirt with the words "Why Always Me." He later declared that he did so for many reasons, but would "leave it for other people to figure out."


According to the rules of the games (Law 12):

While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been scored, the celebration must not be excessive.[60]

In recent seasons, FIFA have attempted to crack down on some of the more enthusiastic celebrations. 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. This can cause huge controversy if the player has already been booked, since he would then be sent off. 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. Some players were receiving fines for dropping their shorts after scoring.

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).[60]

Players might be also fined for revealing T-shirts which contain some kind of message directed to the spectators. Notable examples include Robbie Fowler being fined for showing a T-shirt that was designed to show support for the Liverpool dockers' strike, incorporating the Calvin Klein "CK" into the word doCKer and Thierry Henry, who was fined by UEFA after he removed his Arsenal shirt to reveal a T-shirt reading "For the new-born Kyd," which was directed to his friend, Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri, who had just given birth. In 1999, Fowler was also fined £60,000 by his club and the 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."

Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez was sent off when celebrating a goal against arch-rivals River Plate during the 2004 Copa Libertadores, imitating a chicken, clearly mocking the opposite crowd, in spite of not being booked previously.[61]

Paolo Di Canio made his mark in 2006, when during his period at Lazio, he made a fascist salute to the right-wing fans. He was fined and suspended as a result.[62]

Ipswich Town player David Norris received a fine after using a handcuff gesture to celebrate scoring against Blackpool in November 2008, dedicating the goal to ex-teammate Luke McCormick, who was jailed for death by dangerous driving.[63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70] Everton midfielder Tim Cahill received a similar fine for a similar gesture in a match on 2 March 2008.[71][72][73][74][75][76][77] A similar incident took place in Chelsea against Middlesbrough, when Chelsea's Salomon Kalou scored a brace and thereafter crossed hands with Ivorian teammate Didier Drogba. It was later revealed, however, that he claimed to have wanted to try out a new celebration and was not supporting an Ivorian convictionist.

In a 2009 Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal, Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor received a yellow card for running the length of the pitch to celebrate his goal in front of the Arsenal fans. This was seen as controversial because Adebayor signed for Manchester City that summer from Arsenal.[78][79]

In March 2013, AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis made a Nazi salute towards the crowd after scoring the winning goal against Veria. He was fined €50,000, banned for playing for AEK for the remainder of the season and given a lifetime ban from representing Greece at the international level as a result of the gesture.[80][81]

West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka was banned for five games and fined for celebrating a goal scored in December 2013 with a quenelle. While there was controversy with the gesture being linked to anti-Semitism, Anelka was cleared of being anti-Semitic or endorsing anti-Semitism.[82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89]

Not celebrating a goal[edit]

Refusing to celebrate a goal or undertaking muted goal celebrations is not unknown and not uncommon in football. In the case of the former, it is often seen when a player scores against a former club, especially one where the player began his career and or had his greatest period of success, or where he first made his name. Goalkeepers who score goals also tend not to celebrate, as a mark of respect to the opposition goalkeeper.

Muted celebration usually occurs when scoring a consolation goal in a match that is otherwise already lost. It also occurs when a large amount of goals have been scored by one team in a match, and the result has been put beyond doubt; for later goals, celebrations might be reduced or non existent.

Notable non-celebrations[90][edit]


  • In the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League knockout phase, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice against Manchester United, once in the first leg and again in the second leg. Both times he refused to celebrate out of respect to United; he previously spent six years playing for the club and credited the club for developing him.
  • In 2013, Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begović scored after just 13 seconds with a long clearance against Southampton. Despite becoming just the fifth goalkeeper in Premier League history to score a goal, Begović refused to celebrate out of respect to opposing goalkeeper Artur Boruc.[96][97][98][99]
  • Frank Lampard, upon scoring for Manchester City against Chelsea, refused to celebrate; Lampard was Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer;
  • Aaron Ramsey, upon scoring for Arsenal against Cardiff City, refused to celebrate.
  • In the 2014 World Cup semi-final, it was noted by several commentators during the match that the German players toned down their celebrations as the goals piled up against host nations Brazil. The German Mats Hummels confirmed that this was deliberate on the part of the German players out of a desire not to humiliate the Brazilians unnecessarily.[100]
  • Mario Balotelli, upon scoring his first-ever goal for Liverpool, refused to celebrate, upsetting some commentators, who were happy a few days later to see him smile after assisting a goal. His actions were explained as being due to finally seeing some success more than half-way through a disappointing season.


While unusual and somewhat ironic, a variety of football players have managed to injure themselves during celebration: examples include Paulo Diogo (who severed a finger after it got caught in a fence), Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimović,[102] and Fabián Espíndola, [103] (who celebrated a goal that was later declared offside). An Indian footballer, Peter Biaksangzuala, died from a spine injury following a failed somersault celebration.[104]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Sabre Dance by Henrikh Mkhitaryan". Ukrainian Football 1894. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
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  95. ^ http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/16431991
  96. ^ http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/02/stoke-keeper-asmir-begovic-refuses-to-celebrate-despite-scoring-stunning-goal/
  97. ^ http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/24790526
  98. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/10418311/Stoke-City-1-Southampton-1-match-report.html
  99. ^ http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/440826/Stoke-keeper-Asmir-Begovic-has-a-punt-to-prove
  100. ^ http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2125057-mats-hummels-reveals-germany-decided-not-to-humiliate-brazil-in-second-half
  101. ^ http://m.101greatgoals.com/blog/sub-mario-gotze-scored-bayerns-winner-against-ex-employer-borussia-dortmund-he-didnt-celebrate-despite-abuse/
  102. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlXdOjF7n4A/
  103. ^ http://soccer.fanhouse.com/2008/09/09/fabian-espindolas-mls-goal-celebration-gone-wrong/
  104. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/indian-footballer-dies-after-somersault-celebration-goes-terribly-wrong-9805612.html

External links[edit]