Mikel Arteta refused to celebrate rounding off the scoring in Everton’s 3-0 defeat of Arsenal, out of respect for the club where he has been playing his football since 2011.
Arteta scooped the ball into the net from close range to complete a miserable afternoon for the Gunners that leaves their participation in next season’s Champions League in doubt.
But the former Everton stalwart sportingly refused to indulge in any extravagant celebrations, instead lying on the grass with his head in his hands displaying no emotions whatsoever.
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger played tribute to Arteta, telling FourFourTwo: “It’s always nice when players show respect. Mikel still has a lot of friends here, so I’m glad he didn’t rub it in our fans’ faces.
“If he’d been jumping up and down with glee at the prospect of Everton pipping us to fourth, or ripped off his shirt to reveal a message like ‘SUCK IT GOONERS’, I don’t think supporters would have been very happy.”
But some have criticised the growing trend of players refusing to celebrate goals against the teams that pay their wages.
A spokesman for the Football Supporters’ Federation said: “Everyone can see Arteta’s busted a lung to get to the ball ahead of Kevin Mirallas, and he’s connected pretty sweetly. Why shouldn’t he allow himself a little fist-pump after that?
“When Lee Dixon chipped his own keeper he ran into the crowd to celebrate. When Frank Sinclair scored an own goal from the halfway line he ripped all his clothes off and spent the rest of the game in his pants.”
Most experts believe that Arteta will continue to celebrate very little between now and the end of the season.