The sport of football has often seen unique gestures when it comes to celebrations after a goal.
Some of these have been immortalised like Jurgen Klinsmann’s act of diving onto the pitch with his arms and legs outstretched after finding the back of the net during his playing days. This act of self-satire - Klinsmann was known for going down intentionally to win spot kicks - became so popular among other footballers that it came to be known as ‘The Klinsmann’.
The ongoing football World Cup in Qatar has seen some iconic goal celebrations as well. Sportstar collates the top 10 in no particular order -
1. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon) vs Brazil
Referee Ismail Elfath couldn’t help but smile and shake hands with Cameroon’s Aboubakar before sending him off during the Indomitable Lions’ final Group G match against Brazil on December 2.
In recent seasons, FIFA has come down heavily on overly-enthusiastic celebrations. In Aboubakar’s case, the forward, already on a yellow card, had just scored a historic winner and celebrated by taking off his shirt. As emotions overflowed at Lusail, the referee had to show a second yellow to the 30-year-old.
2. Mitchell Duke (Australia) vs Tunisia
Australian forward Duke, after scoring a 23rd-minute header against Tunisia in a group D fixture, made a gesture with his fingers that initially seemed like a variation of video game Fortnite’s ‘Taking the L’ celebration. By the looks of it, it may have been an altered ‘Dybala Mask’ as well.
But it turns out, it was a message meant for his son Jaxson, who was also in the stands. A pre-planned move from the duo, Duke had said in an interview that he had been practising it everywhere - even in cafes - fearing it could come out all wrong when the big moment arrives.
“It’s been a great reaction from all around the world by the sounds of it,” the Socceroos striker told FIFA.
“He’s [Jaxson’s] overshone me but I’ll take that. He’s a little superstar and I’m happy he’s getting all the headlines. I’m sure he’s going to be a little king when he goes back to his school,” he added.
3. Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea) vs Portugal
Hwang, substituted in in the second half of a Group H match against Portugal, scored the winning goal to help South Korea advance to the Round of 16 for the first time in 12 years.
He celebrated the grand occasion by removing his jersey and planting a kiss on his wrist before flexing his biceps.
It turns out the kiss was meant for his grandparents, under whose care the Wolves striker has grown up because his parents were mostly out working. Hwang has the names of his grandparents tattooed on his left wrist.
“These tattoos are copied from my grandparents’ own handwriting,” Hwang had earlier told a local broadcaster.
4. Ismaila Sarr (Senegal) vs Ecuador
Ismaila Sarr opened the scoring for Senegal from the spot during its match against Ecuador on November 29.
Sarr’s celebration, however, was what caught the eye. With one hand covering his eyes, the 24-year-old Watford striker pointed a finger to his head, mimicking a gun. It was symbolic of the media’s disregard for the ongoing atrocities in Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A few weeks ago, around 300 civilians in the Kishishe village of DR Congo died. The attack was blamed on the M23 rebel group, which UN experts believe is funded by Paul Kagame’s Rwandan government.
5. Lionel Messi (Argentina) vs Netherlands
After converting from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute of a quarterfinal fixture against the Netherlands, Argentina’s talismanic striker Lionel Messi cupped his ears in front of the opposition dugout where the Oranje manager Louis van Gaal was seated.
The gesture was later seen as a revenge for the ill treatment of former Barcelona and La Albiceleste player Juan Roman Riquelme.
Van Gaal, then Barca boss, had signed Riquelme from Boca Juniors in 2002. However, he went on to play the midfielder out of his preferred position multiple times, saying he wasn’t a great player when off the ball. Once, he was even subbed on and then taken off within 30 seconds, prompting Riquelme to celebrate in an identical fashion whenever he scored a goal.
Ahead the match against Messi and Co, Van Gaal downplayed the threat Argentina posed, which prompted the 35-year-old to do a ‘Riquelme’.
6. Osman Bukari (Ghana) vs Portugal
Bukari’s got no chill!
Guess how the Ghanaian forward decided to celebrate his side’s second goal against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal at Stadium 974 on November 24? He pulled off the ‘SIU’, which happens to be Ronaldo’s trademark celebration!
The former Manchester United striker may not have been too happy with the mimicry but he surely went home happier of the two, with Portugal having eked out a 3-2 win in the crucial group stage game.
7. Aurelien Tchouameni (France) vs England
Tchouameni, N’Golo Kanté’s replacement in the French side, has been one of the breakout stars of Qatar 2022.
In a quarterfinal fixture at the Al Bayt Stadium, the 22-year-old midfielder pointed a finger to his temple after scoring a stunning goal against England in the 17th minute.
This was a tribute to Argentine-Italian footballer Lisandro Lopez, one of his childhood heroes. Lopez currently plays for Club Atlético Sarmiento, which competes in Primera División.
8. Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco) vs Canada
Morocco has already created history in a historical first World Cup in the Arab region. It is the first team from Africa to make it this far (it is set to play the third-place playoff against Croatia) in 92 years of trying.
Coach Walid Regragui’s team has defied every prediction - except those of Samuel Eto’o and Sunday Oliseh - to be here as it started the tournament with odds of 200/1.
In a Group F match against Canada, Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri scored in the 23rd minute and went on to celebrate the goal in style, pulling out an imaginary set of binoculars before peering at the crowd.
This celebration is pretty commonplace in football. Multiple players have tried it before En-Nesyri, while trying to convey different messages.
While the Sevilla forward hasn’t come out to say what it meant yet, Team Sportstar thinks it might be a message asking the world to open its eyes to Moroccan football, now that it is in the same league as the big boys.
9. Kylian Mbappe (France) vs Australia
Kylian Mbappe, after scoring France’s third goal past Australia’s Harry Souttar, moved on from his cross-armed leap to bow down, putting one hand behind his back and placing his opposite thumb on his nose.
Paris Saint-Germain, the club he represents, came out with an explanation.
It said: “Is he doing the tea-pot? Is he posing as France’s sporting emblem, Le Coq Sportif? As Rodin’s The Thinker? While the Boy from Bondy has yet to publicly explain the story behind the celebration, most French sources have noted that it first appeared when Mbappé scored for Paris Saint-Germain against Lorient back in April of this year.”
Mbappe then did it with teammate and close friend Achraf Hakimi, suggesting that perhaps the celebration is meant to be a congratulatory message to the Morocco right-back. The Atlas Lions had then beaten Belgium and were on their way to the Round of 16.
10. Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) vs Spain
Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou played hero as he saved two penalties while one flew wide as 2010 champion Spain crashed out of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
After Achraf Hakimi netted the third shot from the spot to seal the fate of the game, his teammates rushed to join him in celebration. Hakimi, meanwhile, waddled like a penguin - a celebration Spanish defending great Sergio Ramos is known for.
Hakimi, in fact, has been a part of the celebration alongside Ramos in Paris-Saint Germain colours.
Ramos, much to the displeasure of many, wasn’t picked by Spain coach Luis Enrique in the World Cup squad.
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