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Football's greatest celebrations - ranked

Mitchell Wilks
Jesse Lingard danced away to Arsenal to pop United fans
Jesse Lingard danced away to Arsenal to pop United fans / Julian Finney/Getty Images
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What is the point in scoring a peach of a goal if you're just going to ruin the mood with a poor celebration?

Zero excuses for it. None. In fact, clubs should allocated dedicated training ground time to put together celebration routines and perfect the artform. Football is passion, emotion, drama. And above all, it's s**thousery at its absolute peak.

From dances to dives, to mild assault charges - which haven't made the list, apologies Mr. Cantona - 90min has pulled together 30 of the most iconic celebrations.


30. Erling Haaland - Zen

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Haaland is crazy / INA FASSBENDER/Getty Images

After going on an obscene scoring run having just signed for Borussia Dortmund, Erling Haaland showed up in the Champions League knockouts to silence PSG in 2020.

The first of two goals, Haaland knocked in a scrappy one and celebrated by calmly slotting down into a meditation pose. Like he wasn't turning the football world on its head with freakish stats.

29. Jim McAlister - RKO

Jim McAlister, Brian McLean
McAlister was the culprit behind a top celebration / Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

More. Of. This.

After scoring for Dundee FC to make it 2-0 in 2014, Gary Harkins fell victim to the three most devastating letters in sports entertainment. No, not VAR. RKO, courtesy of teammate McAlister. Class.

28. Emile Heskey - DJ

Emile Heskey
On the decks / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rolling back the years, Emile Heskey wasn't just lighting up the Premier League with immense hold-up play and goal contributions for Liverpool.

In the early 2000s, he was scoring plenty and celebrating in style, cranking up the tunes on his own little DJ decks in celebration. Underrated.

27. Bafetimbi Gomis - Panther

Bafetimbi Gomis
Terrifying / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ruining Manchester United's 2015/16 season in only their fourth game, Gomis twisted the knife in a 2-1 away defeat for United as the Swans came back from behind.

After netting the winner, the forward fell to his knees and began clawing like a cat towards the hard camera. In fairness, it went some way in completely baffling United fans into forgetting about the result for a moment.

26. Bebeto - Baby

Leonardo, Mauro Silva, Bebeto
Slow it down please guys / PATRICK HERTZOG/Getty Images

If there's ever the right place in football for the birth of an iconic celebration, it's always a World Cup.

Bebeto delivered one for Brazil in 1994, rounding the keeper and running off by swinging his arms in the motion of rocking a baby to pay tribute for his family. Saying that, his kids must've had some vertigo issues from young if that's how he swung them.

25. Jamie Vardy - Prancing bird

Jamie Vardy
An eagle in front of the Eagles / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

It's not a list of wacky celebrations without the Premier League's resident eccentric, right?

Vardy could've been in with a few entries, but it was the prancing bird he pulled out after scoring at Crystal Palace in 2019 to mock the home side. Textbook Vardy and he put maximum effort in too. Good sport.

24. Jesse Lingard, Declan Rice & Pablo Fornals - Tuning up the band

Jesse Lingard, Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals, Tomas Soucek
Your favourite boyband / Pool/Getty Images

Following Jesse Lingard's 2021 loan switch to West Ham, the pieces fell into the place for the Hammers.

In a run of blistering form, they managed a derby win over Tottenham. And when Lingard scored, an empty stadium witnessed the formation of Radio X's new favourite band; the Hammerheads. Lingard on the flute, Fornals on guitar and Rice on the drums, sort of. Get them booked for Knebworth now.

23. Tim Cahill - Corner flag boxer

Tim Cahill
Show it who's boss, Tim / Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Lighting up the 2000s in the Premier League with goals from down under with Everton, Cahill was a player full of charisma.

The Australian picked up the habit of a good celebration, none better than his regular idea of heading to the corner and putting in a few rounds on the corner flag to show it who's boss.

22. Eric Cantona - Stop and stare

Eric Cantona scores Manchester United v Sunderland 1996
Easy / Mark Thompson/Getty Images

When not turning up to black tie events in tracksuits or kung-fu kicking opposition fans, Cantona was being cool in more subtle ways.

After scoring an outrageous chipped goal from a fair distance against Sunderland in 1996, Cantona stood still and watched the ball loop perfectly into the net, before simply staring out the entire ground. Collar up, eyes locked, football was his world. Everyone else was simply paying rent.

21. Stjarnan FC - Gone fishing

FC Copenhagen vs Stjarnan : UEFA Europa League Qualifying Rounds
Stjarnan in action in a Europa League qualifer / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The masters of team football celebrations, Stjarnan over in Iceland have given the game a genuine highlight reel of iconic celebrations for goals.

The bicycle was a solid effort, but their fishing capture from 2010 was a real hit. Celebrating a goal, one player reeled in another who acted as the meat, before the rest of the squad jumped in for a pose with the catch. Incredibly well executed.

20. Ian Wright & Neil Ruddock - Dissent

Neil Ruddock
Neil Ruddock and Ian Wright made a great celebration / Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

'Razor' Ruddock has often cited his time at West Ham as one of the most fun parts of his career, and we can see why.

In 1998, himself and Wright celebrated a goal against Southampton by having Ruddock push Wright to the floor. The celebration was the pair mocking Paolo di Canio for receiving a red card the week before after he pushed referee Paul Alcock and was dismissed for it.

19. Daniel Sturridge - The arms

Altay v Trabzonspor: Ziraat Turkish Cup
Yes, he was still doing it in Turkey / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Admittedly, the Daniel Sturridge trademark has become a little bit tired with his drop off, its appearance on FIFA and it regularly being clipped on Twitter.

However, there was nothing more Barclays than watching a prime Sturridge banging in the goals and then whipping out the jelly arms with a wry smile. The streets won't forget.

18. Peter Crouch - Robot

England's Peter Crouch (C) performs his
Lampard has no idea what he's watching / PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

What makes Crouch's robot so special is how deeply ingrained it became within football culture from grassroots and up for so long.

Why is that special? Because he barely ever pulled it out. The robot debuted in a friendly for England against Jamaica in 2006, but was then switched off for special occasions - it came out of retirement as he scored his 100th Premier League goal in 2017.

17. Emmanuel Adebayor - Knee slide

Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure
Carnage came next / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

There isn't a footballer on this planet who doesn't love a knee slide. Put that knee slide in front of opposition fans and it's even sweeter.

After signing for Manchester City, Adebayor gave Arsenal fans a delayed leaving gift in 2009, running the entire length of the pitch to the away end and knee sliding in front of the travelling Gunners. It's so ludicrous that you've got to admire it.

16. Jesse Lingard - Milly rock

Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba
Evacuate the dancefloor / Julian Finney/Getty Images

In for his second appearance, Lingard milly rocking at the Emirates signified another low point in a dark few years for Arsenal.

Beating Arsenal away from home in December 2017, Lingard got through on goal and inflicted pain by poking it home, before running to the corner and hitting the dance in Arsenal's own backyard. Bonus points for disrespect.

15. Angel Reyna - Hurricanrana

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Go and find it, it's incredible / ROCIO VAZQUEZ/Getty Images

Why is this not excruciatingly viral? This is obscenely skilful, never mind scoring a goal.

Bagging a wonder strike against Cruz Azul in 2014, Pachuca's Angel Reyna celebrated by latching onto his teammates head and delivering a hurricanrana that wouldn't look out of place in Japanese wrestling. The only thing it was missing was commentary from a prime Jim Ross.

14. Nani - Acrobatics

Nani, Michael Carrick
Carrick wants none of that / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ah yes, the infamous celebration that sparked rumours of displeasure from Sir Alex Ferguson. While not confirmed as true, you wouldn't have been shocked to hear it was.

In his earlier days for Manchester United, Portuguese prodigy Nani scored wonder goals and celebrated in even more scary fashion; heading off to a corner and vaulting himself in the air with a cartwheel and backflip combo. Terrifying to watch.

13. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Marco Reus - Batman & Robin

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Batman and Robin / PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Tag team football duos. Why did Arsenal have to sign Aubameyang and rob us of this bond?

At Borussia Dortmund, Aubameyang and Reus struck up a fine partnership. Connected on every level, the two were unbelievably complementary and acknowledged it with a smart celebration in 2015, whipping out Batman and Robin masks to celebrate a goal in a derby with Schalke.

12. Billy Sharp - Mr. Socko

Billy Sharp
Go and search for it - Sharp and Foley are now pals / Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Okay, last of the wrestling celebrations. Definitely the best, though.

After bagging against Norwich in January 2019, Sheffield United captain Sharp pulled out a sock in tribute to WWE legend Mick Foley and trapped George Baldock with Mr. Socko. The clip resulted in Sharp having breakfast with Foley himself. Class.

11. Samuel Eto'o - Old man

Samuel Eto'o
Poking fun at the boss / Clive Rose/Getty Images

After Chelsea had captured a veteran Samuel Eto'o in 2013, Jose Mourinho wasn't entirely convinced he was 32 and actually confessed his doubts, suggesting he was closer to 35.

Eto'o responded to his manager's confusion by celebrating in fashion against Spurs in 2014, heading to the corner flag and hunching over like an old man with a walking stick. All fun and games.

10. Lomana LuaLua - Backflips

Lomana Tresor Lua Lua
Not the smartest celebration / Phil Cole/Getty Images

The streets won't forget LuaLua's eccentric, flippy celebrations. Neither will he, not least when they forced him off injured against Arsenal in 2005/06.

His celebration was terrifying yet exhilarating, but the risk compared to reward was always a scary prospect. Perhaps this was why Ferguson was secretly terrified about Nani's acrobatics.

9. Jimmy Bullard - Team talk

Hull City's English midfielder Jimmy Bul
That's them told / ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

It can be a bit tiresome having to watch Soccer AM force the 'Jimmy Bullard is funny' line at times, but in fairness, he is a good laugh.

Hull manager Phil Brown learned that at full pelt in 2009. After he kept the side out on the pitch for a damning half-time team talk, Bullard scored and celebrated by sitting the team down and pretending to lecture them to mimic the boss. Iconic.

8. Jurgen Klinsmann - Dive

LIVERPOOL V SPURS CELEBRATION
Klinsmann's dive became iconic / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Arriving at Tottenham in 1994 was a frosty one for the German striker, with the press and pundits labelling him a diver for his antics at that year's World Cup.

How did Klinsmann deal with the repeated backlash? He embraced it in a celebration, throwing himself to the floor after a debut goal against Sheffield Wednesday that won Spurs the game. Instant fan favourite.

7. Robbie Keane - Cartwheel

Robbie Keane
Keane took it around the world / Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

More acrobatics, but the Irishman's were always a lot less risky and a lot more enjoyable as a result.

Robbie Keane's trademark cartwheel, forward roll and gun fingers followed him everywhere from London to Los Angeles, but was never appreciated enough, a little like him. Simplified, but very daft and always leaves you smiling.

6. Wayne Rooney - K.O.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-TOTTENHAM
Knockout / OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

After it emerged in the media that Wayne Rooney had been knocked out cold when sparring at his house with Phil Bardsley, he had to hit back.

Sure, a big performance and a goal would have sufficed. But not for Rooney. After bagging against Spurs for Manchester United in 2015, Rooney ran off and threw a few punches, before dropping to the floor to mimic the news that had leaked. Good sport.

5. Roger Milla - Corner flag dance

Emile Mbouh Mbouh, Cyrille Makananaky, Louis Mfede, Stephen Tataw, Roger Milla
Milla on the floor as Cameroon take control of the corner flag / GERARD FOUET/Getty Images

A 38-year-old Roger Milla rocked up to Italia 90 and stole the show entirely.

His four goals for Cameroon were good enough, but his iconic celebration was even better. Milla would run to the corner flag and cut some shapes with the flag, which has become wildly popular worldwide ever since.

4. Alan Shearer - One arm raise

Alan Shearer
Classic / Stu Forster/Getty Images

The definition of simple yet effective. Yer da loves it.

A celebration perhaps lost on younger heads, watching Alan Shearer bag goals for fun in the Premier League wasn't complete without the trademark hand going above the head while he runs off with a wry smile. Celebrations don't need to be complex; this one ticks all the boxes.

3. Mario Balotelli - Why always me?

Manchester City's Italian striker Mario
One for the City fans / ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Being birthed in one of Manchester City's most memorable days, Mario Balotelli bagged in a 6-1 slaughtering of Manchester United in 2011.

How did he celebrate? Lifted his shirt, which had a messaged printed underneath on an undershirt that read 'why always me?'. It was selfish, self aware and arrogant. Absolutely genius from the bonkers Italian who lives and plays without fear of criticism.

2. Fabrizio Ravanelli - Shirt over head

Fabrizio Ravenelli of Middlesbrough celebrates scoring in his usual style
We've all done it / Ben Radford/Getty Images

What on earth does it mean? What possessed Ravanelli to do it? Why did it catch on so infectiously?

You simply haven't played football correctly if you haven't celebrated a goal and ran off with your shirt lifted over your head like a madman. Them's the rules. It's page one of the football handbook. That absolutely exists, obviously.

1. Paul Gascoigne - Dentist chair

Paul Gascoigne
Gazza was nuts / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Gazza always comes out on top here.

A bleached blonde, highly strung and as ever bonkers Paul Gascoigne was in full flow heading into Euro 96. That gifted football with a properly bizarre but equally beautiful celebration as England beat Scotland; Gascoigne flopped over and let his teammates shower him with a bottle of water, mocking the bad press from a night out before the tournament. Poetic.

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