The Tuesday 10: Crazy World Cup celebrations

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Dan Ross presents the 10 most bizarre goal celebrations in World Cup finals history...

Gordon Strachan puts his feet up

Back at Mexico 86, celebrating a goal by hurdling the advertising boards was all the rage.

Evidently not wanting to seem uncool, Gordon Strachan and Charlie Nicholas made a little pact before the Germany game that they would both do it if either one of them scored. So when he finished Roy Aitken's through ball with aplomb after 18 minutes, the 5ft 5in midfielder headed towards the crowd.

Haring up to the seemingly 5ft hoardings, there was only one thing on the ginger terrier’s mind: stopping.

Pulling up before the leap, Strachan had a little test jump, before ultimately deciding to plonk his right leg on top of it, flashing some pasty Scottish thigh to the fans and his amused team-mates.

Unfortunately no Scots were smiling at the final whistle as Germany ran out 2-1 winners.

Lilian Thuram poses

The French defender was such a big, bulky bloke that you would think twice before mocking his girl’s name.

You would also be more than a tad surprised if he scored with his weak foot from the edge of your penalty area. But in the World Cup ’98 semi-final, Thuram did exactly that, curling a beauty into the bottom corner of the Croatia goal to complete a fantastically flabbergasting brace and put his side through to the Final in Paris.

Though he had never scored for France before this double, Thuram’s celebration didn’t indicate as such. He sat down, put a hand to his face and did his finest impression of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’.

Whether this was indeed a clever reference to the location of the Final, or Lilian’s Gallic arrogance (a la Cantona/Henry) coming to the fore remains a mystery.

Rashidi Yekini gets caught up in it all

Former African Footballer of the Year Rashidi Yekini was part of an exciting young Nigerian squad (including Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Finidi George and Sunday Oliseh) which hammered Bulgaria 3-0 in their opening match of USA 94.

Considering the Stoichkov-inspired outfit went on to finish fourth in the tournament, that was no mean feat.

It was Yekini’s goal that started the rout and was, indeed, the debuting Nigerians’ first ever goal in a World Cup.

The joy of being the man to make history clearly overwhelmed Yekini, who, after knocking the ball in from four yards, followed it into the net. There he did his best to entangle himself in it, all the time screaming and shouting with joy.

The image of Yekini’s net-covered face, mouth wide and fists clenched in triumph, became one of the iconic football pictures and is indelibly etched into the minds of every Nigerian fan.

Marco Tardelli has a cry

Another of the most iconic images in World Cup history was the infamous celebration of Italy's Marco Tardelli after he scored for the Azzurri in the 1982 World Cup final.

The powerful left-foot drive from the edge of the area added a crucial second to Paolo Rossi’s opener, effectively putting the game beyond the reach of the Germans. The World Cup seemed destined to be Italy’s and Tardelli knew it.

Caught up in the ecstasy of his realisation, the Juventus midfielder embarked on an emotion-soaked sprint since dubbed the "Tardelli Cry."

He ran towards the Italian bench, fists clenched, tears pouring down a face contorting with rapturous screams of "Goal!" as and shaking his head like a madman.

Without wishing to get overly sentimental, has a celebration ever been more symbolic of the emotions evoked by the beautiful game? Fabio Grosso certainly didn’t think so, recreating it nearly a quarter of a century later in the 2006 semi-final against… yep, Germany.

Diego Maradona goes mental

In their first group game of the 1994 World Cup, Argentina destroyed Greece in the Foxboro Stadium.

Maradona rounded off a delicious Argentinian attacking move with a sublime winner (see last week’s Tuesday Ten) to make the score 3-0, before proceeding to celebrate in such a manner that it alerted the doping authorities.

Maradona ran towards a camera, screaming and staring into the lens with a terrifying vein-bulging, eye-popping lunacy.

Coupled with a newly-found athleticism that belied the lack of form and fitness prior to the tournament, this manic ‘celebration’ aroused more than a little suspicion.

Diego was forced to take a blood test to check for drugs, which, unsurprisingly, he failed with flying colours (and hallucinations).

He was sent home following the clash with Nigeria. A somewhat distracted Argentina then crashed out of the tournament against Romania in the last 16.

Bebeto rocks the quarters

You know those irritating ‘cradle-rocking’ celebrations performed left, right and centre nowadays when superstars like, ahem, Jermaine Jenas, let the world know they have had a baby? Well, blame Bebeto.

Back in the 1994 World Cup, Brazil’s forward Bebeto made himself a household name with an original goal-scoring celebration after scoring against Holland in the quarter final.

As his wife had given birth to his third child several days earlier, he ran over to the side of the pitch and started to rock an imaginary baby, joined by teammates Romario and Mazinho.

In fairness to Bebeto, it was amusing the first time it was seen, and he had only played a handful minutes that tournament, so he had to stand out somehow…

Martin O’Neill is not a fan, though, having famously banned his players from performing the gesture of jubilation: “I don't care if they have just had twins, quadruplets, 19 children at the one time – if they go up and do that when they score a goal, I will go ballistic.”

Fair enough.

Brian Laudrup takes it easy

In the quarter-finals of World Cup ’98, a talented Denmark team played out a thrilling match against Brazil.

After strikes from Bebeto and Rivaldo had cancelled out Martin Jorgensen’s second minute opener, the Danes had to get back into the game.

Five minutes into the second half, Roberto Carlos failed with an attempted bicycle-kick clearance of a chipped pass, and the ball bounced invitingly in front of Brian Laudrup.

The former Rangers and Chelsea man wasted little time in lashing it past Claudio Taffarel to level the scores (at 3min 30secs on the video above).

To celebrate, Laudrup ran, fists clenched, toward the touchline where he slid to the turf and struck a pose. Looking cool and classy, and as relaxed as if he were on a Brazilian beach, Laudrup lay, revelling in the moment.

Unfortunately, that was as far as Denmark got, as Rivaldo completed his brace ten minutes later. But for those few moments, Danes everywhere were on top of the world.

Papa Bouba Diop goes tribal

In the opening match of the 2002 World Cup, the defending World Cup Champions, France, faced former French colony Senegal, in a match widely predicted as a comfortable win for les Bleus.

A sluggish and Zinedine Zidane-less French side, however, went behind after half an hour, ‘the Wardrobe’ Papa Bouba Diop eventually scrambling the ball home.

The jubilant players raced over to the corner flag where Diop removed his shirt and he and his teammates proceeded to dance around it.

Senegal went on to reach the quarter final, while France were eliminated after finishing bottom of Group A without scoring a goal after drawing with Uruguay and another defeat to Denmark.

As a result, Diop’s goal has become as much a symbol of France’s failure as Senegal’s surprising success. Win-win, then.

Finidi George does it doggy style

In the 1994 World Cup, in a match between Nigeria and Greece, the Super Eagles’ Finidi George finished off a smart Nigerian counter by lobbing the ball over the Greek keeper, Karkamanis.

He then did something that shocked the 53,000 people watching in the Foxboro Stadium. The Nigerian ran towards the corner flag and dropped to his knees, before proceeding to walk like a dog on all fours.

He took the amusement one step further by cocking his ‘hind leg’ and imitating the art of relieving himself on the flag.

George later moved to Ipswich Town, but unfortunately the exuberant midfielder failed to ‘make his mark’ on the Premier League, so to speak.

Roger Milla does a little dance

At the ripe old age of 38, Roger Milla received a phone call from the President of Cameroon begging him to come out of retirement and play for the national team at Italia ’90.

Bizarrely, he went on to become one of the major stars of the tournament; bagging four goals and helping the Indomitable Lions reach the quarter-final.

To the delight of the watching world, each of his goals was celebrated with a jiggle and a wiggle at the corner flag, as a fun and dangerous attacking Cameroon outfit quickly became everybody’s second team.

Indeed, Milla’s heroics nearly knocked England out of the tournament at the last eight – he came on as a sub to assist a goal and draw a penalty, but both were ultimately to no avail.

Milla did, however, get into the record books four years later, when the 42-year-old scored in the 1994 World Cup to become the oldest player to ever score in the World Cup finals.

But it is his dance of joy that will forever be remembered, paving the way, as it did, for the wonderful world of goal celebrations today.

Roger Milla is the face of Coca-Cola’s ‘What’s Your Celebration’ campaign. The best celebration at this summer’s World Cup will bag an award, while every goal followed by a dance will help fund a community initiative to bring safer drinking water to schools in Africa. - more to read...
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