Have you ever imagined how you would react if you scored for your country at a World Cup? Would you celebrate with uncontrolled emotion, running wildly all over the place? How about a creative effort with your teammates?
For the majority of us, this is all hypothetical fun. But for some professionals, it surely must’ve been at the forefront of their minds as they embarked upon the biggest tournament in world football.
Scoring is one thing, and will go down in your country’s history deservedly, but the celebration is just as important, if not more. It can make a good goal a great one. It can cement your place in World Cup history; even if the strike itself isn’t that impressive, a unique celebration can become iconic.
Let’s take a look at some of the best celebrations in World Cup history:
Falcao – Brazil vs. Spain 1982
As referenced in the introduction, the choice of whether to run around wildly, overcome with emotion, was certainly the preferred option for Brazilian midfielder Falcao. After shifting the ball onto his left, sending three Italians the wrong way, Falcao curled the ball into the far corner.
What ensued was sheer jubilation and passion. He ran towards the bench, a crazed expression etched across his face, arms flailing wildly. It has become such an iconic celebration, probably because it’s the way we all envisage ourselves celebrating a goal at the World Cup.
Take a look for yourself…
Diego Maradona – Argentina vs Greece 1994
Just look at those pupils. This was a celebration which sparked a huge debate as to whether or not Diego Maradona was under the influence of a substance while playing at the 1994 World Cup.
The goal itself was phenomenal. A quick jink onto his magical left foot before thumping the ball into the top left corner was deserving of such an emotional release, but if you are on drugs – as it was later revealed he was – it’s probably best not to go so close to the camera…
Colombia Team Dances – 2014
They won the hearts of millions for their exploits in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. They made it to the quarter finals playing brilliant football. Oh, and they had the tournament’s top scorer in their ranks in the shape of James Rodriguez.
But what made the Colombians so likeable was their dancing. On more than one occasion, they would celebrate a goal by grouping together and breaking out into a little jig.
See for yourself…
Fabio Grosso – Italy vs. Germany 2006
Extra time goals to take the lead usually spark wild scenes, but Fabio Grosso’s goal against the Germans back in 2006 sparked them like no other.
A sumptuous no look pass from Andrea Pirlo inside the full back allowed Grosso a tiny chance at goal from a wide angle, and he made no mistake.
Excellently executed, Grosso whipped a curling shot past Jens Lehmann into the far corner; the strike even promoted Gianluigi Buffon to come charging up from his goal to celebrate.
Bebeto – Brazil vs Holland 1994
Having just scored a well taken goal in the quarter finals of the World Cup, what better way to announce the arrival of your newborn son than with an iconic celebration?
After rounding Ed de Goey in the Netherlands’ goal, Bebeto wheeled away with his arms swinging left to right, creating a cradling movement to commemorate his newborn baby.
Oh, and as of last year, that baby signed for Sporting. Don’t you feel old.
Julius Aghahowa – Nigeria vs Sweden 2002
One somersault after scoring a goal is impressive enough, but doing seven is just showing off. However, that is exactly what Julius Aghahowa did after netting at the 2002 finals for Nigeria.
Once he set off, it looked like he was never going to stop as he acrobatically flipped over and over again towards the corner flag.
I don’t really do it justice, so here, take a look for yourself…
Roger Milla – Cameroon vs Colombia 1990
The Cameroonian forward’s goal was good enough in itself to be remembered for decades, skipping past numerous Colombians before rifling the ball home.
However, in addition to the goal, Roger Milla made what was a good strike into an iconic one with the consequential celebration. Cameroon’s number nine proceeded to run over to the corner flag and dance with it, as if he were serenading a woman on the dance floor.
Robbie Keane – Republic of Ireland vs Germany 2002
The famous cartwheel, forward roll and wild flailing of the arms celebration that we’ve become so accustomed to seeing with Robbie Keane graced the biggest stage back in 2002.
Against Germany of all teams, a 96th minute winner from the Irishman sparked crazy scenes from the bench, as well as every outfield player in green.
Papa Bouba Diop – Senegal vs France 2002
With the goal at his mercy, Papa Bouba Diop scuffed his chance to score against France. Although, the Senegalese had his blushes spared as the ball rebounded back to him, gleefully tucking it away at the second time of asking.
As a result, it can only be that fortuitous second chance that can be used as an explanation for the celebration that followed. Diop proceeded to whip his shirt off and place it delicately on the ground, where he and his teammates then danced around it.
It really was a wonderful moment, and one of the most iconic celebrations of all time.
Finidi George – Nigeria vs Greece 1994
Again, like Roger Milla’s strike, Finidi George’s lobbed effort probably makes it’s way into World Cup folklore in isolation. But the celebration makes it so, so much better.
The Nigerian wheeled away towards the corner flag after his delicate chipped finish, where he then got down on all fours and proceeded to lift his leg up, as if to imitate a dog urinating.
It’s completely bonkers, but well worth a watch…
Marco Tardelli – Italy vs. West Germany 1982
“The joy of scoring in a World Cup final was immense, something I dreamed about as a kid. My celebration was a release after that dream.”
The above is a quote from Marco Tardelli after his World Cup final goal against West Germany back in 1982. It is one of the most memorable celebrations in footballing history, purely because the look on the Italian’s face was one of sheer, unbridled ecstasy.
His eyes widened in disbelief, his fists clenched and pumping, the fact he just began to run and run with no clear destination in mind. It reminded us that these footballers are, ultimately, human, and that even the most far fetched of childhood dreams can come true if you work hard enough.