Scoring a goal is one of the most pivotal moments of a football match. It involves both the release and creation of tension. Small wonder then that it is accompanied by a great deal of emotion. In the early days of the game, however, demonstrations of joy were frowned upon – you just scored and wandered back to the half line with a few pats on the shoulder if you were lucky. That changed with high-profile television coverage and sponsors and suddenly, goal celebrations became as much of an art as goal scoring itself. And the bigger the stage, the more elaborate the celebrations. Which is why the World Cup has seen some amazing goal celebrations – and we are not talking about the now standard template of raising your arm and running towards the crowd. Here are ten goal celebrations that really caught spectators’ eyes in the World Cup…oh and one that almost ended in disaster for a legend.
Bebeto (1994): Rock a bye baby
Sprinting away after scoring, moving arms and cupped hands in a gently rocking motion – this goal celebration has now become almost a trademark of every player who is either expecting a child or has a very young one. It was first seen in the 1994 World Cup when Brazilian forward Bebeto scored against Netherlands. He ran away, a huge smile on his face, rocking an invisible cradle, and was joined by his teammates at the touchline. Very awww…
Brian Laudrup (1998): Scored, posed…should have been sculpted!
Perhaps the most remarkable goal celebration ever seen in a World Cup came from Denmark’s Brian Laudrup. Playing against Brazil in the quarterfinal of the 1998 tournament, Laudrup scored, ran back towards his own goal, and then suddenly just laid down on the ground on his side, head propped up on his elbow. Like a model posing for an artist. Someone chisel that pose in stone!
Julius Aghahowa (2002): Flip me a perfect ten!
Seven front flips. One without hands on the ground. Well, that was the gymnastic tally served up by Nigerian forward, Julius Aghahowa, after he headed a goal against Sweden in the 2002 World Cup. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else for that matter.
Marco Tardelli (1982): Run, run, run
Italy were playing Germany in the 1982 World Cup final and were up a goal. After an elaborate build up, the ball went to Marco Tardelli who was on the top of the German penalty area. Tardelli unleashed a thunderous drive that hit the net even before goalkeeper Tony Schumacher could move. And then took off on an extended sprint, arms waving and mouth open in a never ending scream, providing people with one of the iconic images of the tournament.
Ivan Kaviedes (2006): Web slinger on the pitch
No, Spider- Man does not play football. Or maybe he does. For, he did make a very brief appearance on the pitch in the Ecuador vs Costa Rica match in the 2006 World Cup. Ecuador’s Ivan Kaviedes scored, and then pulled a Spider-Man mask out of his shorts pocket and donned it. It was a tribute to a teammate who had passed away, but was a Marvel-lous moment.
Roger Milla (1990): Shake it, baby!
At 38, he was one of the oldest players in the tournament, but provided it with one of the most memorable goal celebrations ever seen. Cameroon’s Roger Milla was one of the stars of the 1990 World Cup, stunning people with his skill and positioning. And of course, there was his goal celebration – an extended, joyous hip wriggle as he ran to the sidelines. Age was just a number.
Zinedine Zidane (1998): Kiss the shirt…
France a goal to the good against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final. The French get a corner and their talismanic midfielder Zinedine Zidane heads it into the net (just like he had the first goal too), and this time, peels away towards the crowd, tugging and kissing the French jersey he is wearing. Not a very demonstrative type, Zizou, but this is a celebration everyone remembers.
Papa Bouba Diop (2002): …or alternatively, dance around it
Senegal got the 2002 World Cup off to a stunning start with one of THE great upsets in football history. The Africans beat defending champions France with a goal from Papa Bouba Diop. But the celebration that followed the goal was just as surprising as the goal itself. Diop sprinted to the corner flag, took off his jersey, laid it out on the ground and then along with his teammates, proceeded to dance around it.
Finidi George (1994): P***ed off or on?
The Nigerians provided some of the most amazing goal celebrations in the 1994 World Cup. When Finidi George chipped over the Greek goalkeeper to score, he promptly went down on all fours like a dog. And then proceeded to lift a foot in a manner that would suggest a very canine response to a call of nature. No, he did not get booked for it, although the Greeks might have felt p***ed off. Or on, for that matter.
Siphiwe Tshabalala (2010): Dance in Sync!
The South African football team might have exited the tournament it hosted in the first round itslef, but not before delivering one of its most memorable moments, after Siphiwe Tshabalala scored against Mexico. Shabalala ran to the sidelines and urged his teammates to join him in a surprisingly well coordinated dance. We bet they practiced it in the dressing room!
Miroslav Klose (2014)…and the celebration that almost ended in disaster
No one has scored more goals in the World Cup than Germany’s Klose, who has sixteen of them to his credit. And he celebrated most with a hands-free front flip, somersault in the air. When he arrived for the 2014 World Cuph, he was 36, not the age at which one expects acrobatics. Age, however, went right out of the window when Klose equalised for Germany in a group match against Ghana, tying him with the most goals in the World Cup at 15 with Ronaldo. Of course, he tried to a flip. And it nearly went wrong as he stumbled on the landing. When he did break the record, with a goal against Brazil, Klose opted for a simpler sliding towards the crowd celebration. He did not flip it!