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Best goal celebrations in football history: The good, the bad and the ugly

Scoring a goal is the greatest feeling in the world, so say the best goalscorers to play the game. We can only dream.

That feeling of euphoria certainly explains some of the more passionate, rabid goal celebrations we've seen over the years, but less so the choreographed ones which have grown in popularity since the '90s.

Here we take a look at the best goal celebrations in football history, or at least some of the most famous.

Best goal celebrations in football history – The good

Messi at the Bernabeu

Lionel Messi is the highest goalscorer in El Clasico history with 26 goals to his name against Real Madrid but his most iconic celebration against Los Blancos came back in April 2017. Messi scored a last-minute winner at the Bernabeu and instead of going crazy, the Argentinian simply ran up to the Madrid crowd, took his shirt off and held his name and number up to them. Cold.

Mario Balotelli's ‘Why Always Me'

From one derby to another here and Mario Balotelli's famous ‘Why Always Me' celebration in Manchester City's 6-1 demolition of Manchester United in 2012. Balotelli was the focus of intense media coverage during his time at City and he let his feelings known by lifting his shirt up after scoring the opener to reveal a message that simply asked “Why Always Me?”

Robbie Keane's cartwheel

Robbie Keane's cartwheel celebration is one of the most iconic in Premier League history. The celebration would come out almost every time Keane scored. The cartwheel into forward roll may have got less smooth as Keane got older but it's a certified Premier League classic when it comes to celebrations.

Most famous goal celebrations in football history | Best goal celebrations in football
Messi stuns the Bernabau – Photo by Icon Sport

Most famous goal celebrations in football history – The bad

Cristiano Ronaldo's Siuuu

The origins of Cristiano Ronaldo's famous ‘Siuuu' celebration can be traced back to 2013 when Ronaldo was the best footballer on the planet. Back then, Ronaldo didn't wheel it out every time he scored but for whatever reason, the celebration took on a life of its own as Ronaldo's abilities declined. It's been so overdone now that it almost feels cringey when the man himself does it.

Daniel Sturridge's dance

Daniel Sturridge is arguably as well known for his goal celebration as he is for his goals and while that is perhaps due to the injuries he suffered throughout his career, his goal celebration is one that you either love or hate. After scoring goals for Liverpool, the England striker would stop and wiggle his arms from side to side in front of the Reds faithful.

Every goal Jesse Lingard has ever scored

Maybe we're being miserable here but for someone who has never quite hit the heights he expected of himself, Jesse Lingard didn't half used to enjoy his elaborate goal celebrations. From the dab to the Milly Rock, Lingard seemed to enjoy the celebration more than the act of scoring itself.

daniel sturridge celebration | Best goal celebrations in football
Daniel Sturridge doing his iconic dance – Icon Sport

Most iconic goal celebrations in football history – The ugly

Emmanuel Adebayor vs Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor's celebration for Man City against Arsenal in 2009 earned him a two-match suspension from the FA and a plethora of objects thrown at him from the travelling Arsenal supporters. Adebayor scored a header in City's 4-2 win over Arsenal shortly after making the move from London to Manchester and instead of celebrating the goal with his new fans, he decided to run the length of the pitch to the away end to knee slide in front of them.

Wayne Rooney vs Tottenham

Before Manchester United faced Tottenham Hotspur in a Premier League match in 2015, a video surfaced online of Wayne Rooney being flattened by ex-teammate Phil Bardsley in a boxing sparring session in Rooney's kitchen after a night out. Rooney was labelled unprofessional and was expected to be dropped for the match but he started and scored a sensational solo goal in the fist half. To celebrate, his shadow boxed near the corner before falling flat on his back.

Paul Gascoigne at Euro 96

An iconic celebrations list wouldn't be right without talking about the dentist chair celebration at Euro 96. Before the tournament, Paul Gascoigne and his England teammates enjoyed a pre-tournament tour of East Asia where stories surfaced of a boozy night where Gazza was put on his back and tied down while his teammate poured alcohol into his mouth.

To make light of the situation, Gazza and his teammates re-enacted the moment after Gascoigne scored in England's Euro 96 match against Scotland but this time with water instead of vodka.


Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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