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The World Cup’s most memorable goal celebrations

7th June 2018 Print

Footballers will tell you there’s no feeling like scoring a goal. The second the ball hits the back of the net, the scorer is engulfed with sheer euphoria and waves of almost unbridled joy. What comes next is a celebration of that goal - and in those crazy few seconds anything might happen. The goalscorer might be mobbed by teammates, or run to a section of celebrating home supporters. Kit might be temporarily lost, with a shirt removed and waved above the head (although that obviously now results in a yellow card, thanks to fun sponge officials).

Celebrations vary. Some are spontaneous, some carefully choreographed. Some are extravagant and inventive, others just underpinned by pure emotion. Some are understated; the former England striker Alan Shearer simply used to raise his right hand in salute, every single time. Dull? Yes, a little, but it meant that Shearer made that celebration his trademark and will forever be associated with it.

The World Cup has seen some absolutely cracking celebrations over the years. Let’s relive some of the very best and what was behind the celebrations.

Bebeto - for Brazil v the Netherlands, 1994

When Brazilian striker Bebeto danced through a leaden-footed Dutch defence, rounded flailing goalkeeper Ed de Goey and tapped into an empty net, he celebrated by rocking his arms by side to side as a father would a baby. Teammates Mazinho and Romario quickly cottoned on and joined him. The reason? He’d just become a father. If you remember the moment, this will make you feel old. That baby, Mattheus, is now all grown up and is a professional footballer himself. Will Brazil be celebrating again this year? Check out the odds and they’re outstanding favourites to top their group and win the trophy outright.

Finidi George - for Nigeria v Greece, 1994

What was going through the mind of Finidi George after he scored for Nigeria against Greece? No-one really knows for sure. George dropped to his knees, crawled around on all fours and cocked his leg, imitating a dog weeing. Bit weird. Getting back to his feet, he rounded it all with a 360 degree spin. The dog thing’s never really fully explained.

Marco Tardelli - for Italy v Germany, 1982

Probably the most famous World Cup celebration of all time, Tardelli’s goal and subsequent reaction is the stuff of legend. It came in the final against Germany; the midfielder controlled the ball just outside the penalty area before smashing a left-footed shot into the far corner. He then raced away in delight, arms outstretched, head shaking from side to side, screaming with passion. Watch the clip and look at Tardelli’s face - the man’s completely surrendered to emotion.

James Rodriguez - for Colombia v Ivory Coast, 2014

Colombia’s James Rodriguez had a lot of fun in the last World Cup, not least with his goal celebrations. The attacking midfielder showed a flair for dance and liked to involve his teammates too. After he scored a near post header against the Ivory Coast, he first did a shuffle himself before racing down the touchline, gathering the rest of the team together, and launching into what looked suspiciously like a carefully choreographed routine. Players stood in a circle, putting one leg forward and then the other. Let’s hope we see more of this from James and Colombia this summer; if results go as expected, the odds are they could meet England in the knockout stages.

Roger Milla - for Cameroon v Colombia, 1990

The performances of Cameroon - and Roger Milla in particular - put a smile on everyone’s face at Italia ‘90. His iconic celebration became a feature of the tournament. Dancing through the Colombian defence, he blasted a left-footed shot past Rene Higuita, sprinted to the corner flag and did his now famous ‘wiggle’ dance. Later in the game, another Milla goal and the same celebration. It’s just a shame TV footage flagged up his name as ‘Miller’...