The World Cup is the pinnacle of all sporting events for so many reasons, but one of them is surely the unforgettable celebrations it has provoked over the years. There is simply no other celebration like a World Cup celebration.
From the sheer importance the goal holds, to the opportunity any score represents to showcase an individual’s unique flair and talent, the tournament has always inspired something special in all its goalscorers.
In that regard, here are seven of the best celebrations in World Cup history…
Roger Milla – Cameroon v Colombia 1990
Roger Milla’s infamous corner flag dancing routine at Italia ’90 was one of the highlights of the whole tournament itself.
His four goals at the age of 38 helped Cameroon become the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter finals, but it was his reaction to the scores that captured the world’s imagination.
In many ways, his exuberance pioneered the age of wacky, wonderful celebrations that proceeded him, and for that the footballing world must be eternally grateful.
Marco Tardelli – Italy v Brazil 1982 World Cup Final
“Marco Tardelli, expressing what it’s like to score in a World Cup final,” croons the English commentator after Italy’s second goal in the 1982 World Cup final against Brazil.
And that’s why it’s such an iconic celebration – because it displayed one of the most authentic instances of true footballing passion. Running with two fists aloft, shaking his head side to side with simultaneous disbelief and unbridled joy – it’s the kind of reaction a fan would elicit if they were put in the same situation.
In many ways it is the antithesis of Milla’s choreographed routine – but it’s equally as memorable.
Papa Bouba Diop – Senegal v France 2002
A return to the more scripted exhibitions of jubilation, Senegal’s collaborative effort against France in 2002 was innovative to the extreme.
Having poked in from his own rebound, Papa Bouba Diop set off towards the corner flag and removed his shirt. He then proceeded to place it on the ground, gather his teammates in a circle around the shirt, and perform a quasi ceremonial dance around it.
The circle was eventually broken as several players then broke into a jig. Definitely wonderful.
Julius Aghahowa – Nigeria v Sweden 2002
A much adored category of celebration, the acrobatic back-flip/cartwheel/front-flip is always impressive.
However, there were perhaps none better at the feat than Nigeria’s Julius Aghahowa, who displayed all of his gymnastic exploits at the 2002 World Cup against Sweden. The fact that it came after scoring Nigeria’s only game of the tournament made it even more momentous.
Bebeto – Brazil v Holland 1994
One of the more sentimental celebrations that have been created at the World Cup, Bebeto’s tribute to his newborn baby was an iconic addition to the lexicon. Brazil’s sixth highest scorer of all time collected three goals in the 1994 tournament, helping Brazil to glory.
While it may have been over-used in the years since its inauguration, there’s no denying the joy it brought at the time.
Fabio Grosso – Italy v Germany 2006
Another Italian celebration, another example of pure ecstasy. Fabio Grosso’s celebration following his goal against Germany in the semi final of 2006 was admittedly made all the better by the quality of the goal itself.
In a moment of pure Andrea Pirlo poetry, the midfielder collected the ball from a corner, feigned to shoot, and then played in Grosso with a gorgeously incisive reverse pass, for Grosso to score first time.
In scenes reminiscent of Tardelli 24 years earlier, the left- back wheeled away with pure delight, closely followed by all of his equally euphoric teammates.
Pablo Armero – Colombia v Greece 2014
Colombia’s performances as a whole lit up the 2014 World Cup, but their group dance routines were the stuff of celebratory dreams.
After scoring his country’s first goal of the tournament, Pablo Armero peeled away with elation, before suddenly remembering the predetermined routine. What made this particular routine transcend its dancing rivals, was the gusto with which the whole squad performed the piece.
Even bench players and assistants got in on the act, as they bounced from side to side with patriotic glee.