We use cookies to give you the best possible experience of our website. If you continue, we'll assume you're happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our cookie policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

Close

The greatest goal celebrations in football history

The best goal celebrations tend to fall into one of two categories. Firstly, you’ve got your carefully choreographed routines: when they’re done well, they’re original, funny and are often a player’s way of answering back to stick he’s been getting off the pitch. 

Then there are those classic spur-of-the-moment gut reactions. These stick in the mind not because the player's trying to be entertaining, but because everything the player is feeling: joy, relief and sometimes downright incredulity is right there on display.

Here's our selection of the most flamboyant, heartfelt and often bizarre celebrations from over the years.

Roger Milla

When Cameroon beat Argentina in their opening game at the 1990 World Cup, the unfancied African side suddenly became everyone's favourite underdogs. In their second game, they came up against Romania and off the bench stepped a 38-year-old super sub by the name of Roger Milla who was only in the tournament after having been coaxed out of retirement by the country's president.

He bagged a brace against the Romanians and scored four in the tournament overall, on each occasion running to the corner flag and performing a trademark hip-gyrating wiggle.

Paul Gascoigne

The run-up to the 1996 European Championships hadn’t seen the England squad on their best behaviour. An unconvincing performance against Hong Kong in a pre-tournament friendly didn’t bode well. What's more, the press had a field day when pictures emerged of Paul Gascoigne and Teddy Sheringham having drinks poured down their throats while strapped to dentist's chairs in a Hong Kong bar.

When England lost to Switzerland in their opener, an early exit seemed a real possibility. That was until late on in the match against Scotland when Gazza flicked the ball past Colin Hendry before volleying home past Andy Goram. It was a moment of individual genius that was to see England transformed instantly into title contenders.

The celebration was pointed squarely at the naysayers: Gascoigne lying on the ground, while team-mates squirted water into his mouth in a re-enactment of the Hong Kong dentist chair pics.

Marco Tardelli

How are you supposed to react if you’ve just scored in the World Cup final? For many of us, the automatic reaction could very well be to revert back to our childhood and run around shouting our own name. Marco Tardelli's reaction in the 1982 final was so endearing because that's precisely what he did.

Peter Crouch

After a neat turn and shot to seal England's 3-1 win in a friendly against Hungary in 2006, a trademark celebration was born. This was the first time Peter Crouch showcased his eighties-style robotic dance; a routine that was to make reappearances from time to time as the ungainly striker successfully caused problems for defenders at national and club levels. A big Star Wars fan, he later stated that the idea was inspired by C-3PO.

Eric Cantona

When Manchester United met Sunderland in 1996, Cantona pulled out something special; chipping the Sunderland keeper with absolute grace and precision. What he did next was equally cool; turning around-slowly and basking in Old Trafford's ecstatic reaction. 16 years later when informed that his had been voted the Premier League’s greatest ever goal celebration, he responded in typical fashion: “That's the only thing I won? For a king like me, it's not a lot”.

Stuart Pearce

When Stuart Pearce stepped up to the penalty spot in the shootout against Spain during the 1996 European Championships, there was no shortage of England fans with their hearts in their mouths. Was it going to be a rerun of 1990 and his miss against West Germany? As it turned out, it wasn’t; and his reaction of joy and relief was to echo the feelings of the nation – and go down as one of the defining moments of the tournament.