9 goal celebrations that went badly wrong

Robbie Fowler
(Image credit: Getty)

Back in the day, players just used to shake hands before heading back to the centre circle.

But all of that changed with football's growth. Back-flips and choreography became the norm, as kids in the playground began to copy their heroes.

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Sometimes, celebrations don't turn out how you'd wish, mind...

1. Knee-sy does it

In August, Hamburg winger Nicolai Muller managed to rule himself out of action for seven months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament celebrating a goal. Having volleyed home the only goal of the game in his side's 1-0 win over Augsburg, the 29-year-old insisted on performing a frankly ludicrous series of balletic pirouettes. As he landed following the final twist, Muller fell to the ground in agony. 

"Next time, I’ll probably just shake the guys’ hands,” he said ruefully afterwards. Too late now, Nicolai.

2. Fowl play in Argentina

After notching a crucial goal in Boca Juniors’ Copa Libertadores clash with arch-rivals River Plate in 2004, Carlos Tevez ripped off his shirt and flapped around dementedly, performing a chicken dance in front of his team-mates.

The reason? Boca fans refer to River Plate players as “gallinas” (chickens), claiming their rivals lack guts and fighting spirit. The distinctly unimpressed referee deemed the celebration “inflammatory” and immediately dismissed a crestfallen Tevez, before replicating the celebration to demonstrate the error of the striker's ways.

3. "Down the line, Robbie"

Relentlessly taunted by Everton fans, who alleged that he was fond of sniffing white powder in his spare time, Liverpool striker Fowler celebrated scoring against the Toffees by getting down on all fours and pretending to hoover a line of cocaine off the touchline.

Team-mate Steve McManaman quickly pulled him to his feet, but the damage was already done. Manager Gerard Houllier tried desperately to cover for his star man, desperately claiming “Robbie was merely imitating a cow eating grass,” but the authorities didn't buy it and banned him for four games.

It wasn't the first time Fowler was punished for a celebration: in a UEFA Cup match against Brann Bergen two years earlier, the striker lifted his shirt to reveal a vest referencing the Liverpool dockers’ dispute, in which 500 workers were sacked. With political demonstrations forbidden by UEFA, Fowler was hit with a fine. 

4. Cavani the sharp-shooter

Edinson Cavani was one of three players to be sent off in PSG's 3-1 victory over Lens in October 2014, with the Uruguayan seeing red for his ‘sniper’ celebration. The striker was first booked for celebrating his goal in front of Lens’ raucous fans with his trademark gun celebration, before then receiving a second yellow for remonstrating with the referee.

"There were some incidents which meant that, unfortunately, the match lost a lot of interest in the second half," PSG coach Laurent Blanc complained. "At 10 against nine, the teams cancelled each other out and it wasn't a great match." “I’ve celebrated like that for a long time, and I’m not changing now,” blasted a defiant Cavani.

5. Til death do us part

December 5, 2004 wasn't Diogo’s day. With his Servette side away at FC Schaffhausen, the midfielder set up a goal for Jean Beausejour in the 87th minute of the game, then jumped onto the metal fence separating fans from pitch to celebrate.

Regrettably, his wedding ring got caught in the barrier and, as he jumped off the fence, much of his finger tore off with the ring. To rub salt in the wound (not literally, mercifully), referee Florian Etter then penalised him with a yellow card for excessive time-wasting. In fact, Diogo was busy helping stewards search for his severed finger. That's what they all say...

6. Samir says shush

After Samir Nasri drilled a shot past Joe Hart during France's clash with England at Euro 2012, he ran towards the press box with his finger on his lips. It was a none-too-subtle dig aimed at French journalists, whom Nasri believed had been overly critical of him in preceding months.

If the Manchester City man believed the attitude towards him would soften as a result, he was wrong: the inflammatory gesture simply made things worse. After France lost to Spain in the quarter-finals, a French journalist pitched a question to Nasri which the former Arsenal midfielder objected to. The angry response: “You’re looking for shit. You’re looking for trouble.”

After adding that the writer was a “son of a bitch,” Nasri controversially quit international football at just 27.

7. Hide and seek

With Jaguares 1-0 up at Santa Fe in a Colombian top-flight contest in May 2017, Kevin Londono doubled his side's lead in the 71st minute, converting from close-range following a flowing passing move.

The goal was of high quality but the celebration topped it: the 23-year-old laid down on a sponsor's mat by the goal and, in double-quick time, rolled himself up in it. The referee wasn't impressed, though, booking the beaming star for his frippery.

8. "Tell him he's Pele"

At the start of the current campaign, Santa Cruz had been on a three-game losing streak in Brazil's second tier - so they desperately needed a win against Criciuma.

They got off to the perfect start, Luis breaking the deadlock in the 29th minute by tapping in Yuri's squared pass. But it quickly went horribly wrong for the goalscorer, who caught his foot on some advertising hoardings while leaping over them in celebration. Luis tumbled headfirst onto the pitch, hurting his leg, but Santa Cruz’s physio was fortunately on hand to apply his magic spray.

9. Turning the corner

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry decided to mimic former Manchester United forward Lee Sharpe’s ‘Elvis’ celebration after scoring against Chelsea in 2000.

The Frenchman grabbed the corner flag and used it as a mic stand, only for it snap upright and smack him full in the face. Forced to miss the restart, Henry required medical attention in order to regain his customary va-va-voom.

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