Goal celebrations are, for me, one of the more tedious aspects of football. Its bad enough having to watch a goal, but then the perpetrator does something to further draw attention to themselves. They’re big news, though; think of the famous ones – Marco Tardelli for Italy, Jan-Aage Fjortoft for Swindon, Nat Brown for Huddersfield – and they stick in the mind long after the goals themselves are forgotten, as little windows into the minds of famous footballers; Why Always Me?


I thought it might be worth doing a quick translation of what players actually mean when they celebrate in certain ways.

A Knee Slide
“I have done a goal, mere viewers, and I wish to dominate your screen for a short while afterwards so you know for certain it was me. I am quite tired, though, and don’t want to run very far to do that” Better When the player falls over.

Running To A Team-Mate Pointing
“I did a goal, hurrah, but it was mainly due to this chap here – this one that I’m pointing at. I want you to look at him, but I want to make sure you see me pointing at him. Don’t forget it was me who did the goal”
Better When the goal is disallowed and the goal supplier plays on while the scorer still approaches him.

Taking One’s Shirt Off
“I have scored! Brilliant! Its so good I will accept the threat of a ‘needless’ booking by removing this lightweight garment so you can see my tattoo of some Chinese writing that I don’t understand”
Better When it is a second booking.

Pointing At The Name On The Back Of A Shirt
“I might not be particularly popular with people who are too far away to read this, but the ones who see it on television might read it and like it, but more likely they already really know my name, and I’m just reminding them”
Better If the player has had a blood injury earlier and is wearing a blank shirt.

Not Celebrating Against A Former Club
“I am arrogant enough to think these people care if I show delight in doing something they have plainly seen me enjoy many times so I will show them my ‘respect’ by not doing so on this occasion¹”
Better If team mates are going apeshit around and about.

Revealing A Slogan On An Undershirt
This breaks down into categories.
1. Political – “Because I am so important, people will care what I think about an issue as much as I care”
2. Humorous – “I was confident enough that I would get this
opportunity that I have prepared this ‘spontaneous’ joke for you” 3. Personal – “I forgot to send a card, but I managed to get a youth team player’s vest off him this morning and scrawl this on it. I hope it helps”
Better If there is a spelling mistake.

A Choreographed Movement
This breaks into two categories.
1. Without breaking stride – “I am performing this movement for you, the fans, as an expression of my joy and yours being unified” 2. If a stop is needed – “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! I am doing this thing”

Running Towards A Manager, Pointing
“I was recently dropped because I wasn’t playing well and, after someone got injured, this man was forced to play me again and I have rewarded his faith in me that he demonstrated by not buying somebody different by scoring this one goal in this one situation. I am brilliant. I was right after all”
Better If the manager reacts by substituting said player.

Cupping One’s Ear To Opposition Fans
“You have been ridiculing me for a long time now, but look at what I have done. I have scored a goal! Brilliant! It only took me seven opportunities and your goading didn’t affect me at all. That’s why I’m doing this gesture of mockery and not celebrating with the people who created my goal and the many chances I missed”
Better if the goal is disallowed.

Picking Up The Ball And Running To The Centre Circle
“I want to do one of the other celebrations, but I can’t because we’re not getting the right result, so I will appear urgent and people won’t realise I have written a joke on a t-shirt under my shirt”
Better if a brawl ensues in the goal net.

Incidentally, I was a rare goal-scorer in my playing days. As far as I recall, my last ‘celebration’ was to turn to my team mates and yell “Why the f******g hell did you let me get this far up the pitch? Can you move for the f******g ball you lazy b*******s?”; I welcome ‘Goal Celebration Analysis’ for that, or indeed, any other celebrations I may have omitted.

¹The serious point of this post comes here. I think there’s a difference in the conception of goals that players aren’t entirely astride. I see goals as something that are scored FOR somebody. Andy Booth scores FOR Huddersfield. This goal celebration takes the opposite standpoint – goals that are scored AGAINST somebody, as if they’re something they have DONE TO them. Theo Walcott scores AGAINST Southampton. I can see cases for both – but goals tend to be the result of a combination of actions from a number of positive players (even a corner being headed in involves two players), which I would say were trying to achieve the aim of scoring, thus are FOR. Only penalties or direct free-kicks are specific binary actions enough to be AGAINST. So, if a player scores a penalty in a game against a former club, and refuses to celebrate it, then I would support that.