While some goals are remembered for their technique, others for game they won or trophy they secured, certain goals are remembered for the iconic celebrations that followed. In all leagues and on every national teams, players are raising their celebratory standards by creating new post-goal routines or mimicking legendary poses, and the results have given fans another aspect of the sport to obsess over. Below are three of the most memorable goals celebrations from recent years.
- Barcelona vs Real Madrid, April 23rd, 2017
The 2016-17 La Liga title race was a familiar two horse race between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. With star-studded sides, both teams constantly pushed each other to produce results every week, and the result was a tight battle for first place. In late April, Barcelona travelled to Madrid needing three points to keep their title hopes alive. El Clásico rarely disappoints, and this was no exception. Down 1-0 early, Barcelona battled back to take a 2-1 lead, and when Sergio Ramos was shown a red card in the 77th minute, it seemed as if the game was won. 10 man Real Madrid, urged on by their home crowd, found an equalizer late in regulation. A tie would have kept them top of the table with a game in hand. However, as had become tradition, last minute Leo Messi brilliance silenced the Bernabéu. Following a surging run from Sergio Roberto, the ball found its way out wide to Jordi Alba, who delivered the perfect cutback to find Messi’s left foot just inside the box. He fired it in low into the bottom left corner, securing the three points and adding more fire to the title race. To celebrate his 500th Barcelona goal, Messi took his jersey off and held it up to the Madrid fans. He pointed at his name and number as if the Madridistas needed another reminder of the man who so often tormented their team.
- USWNT vs England, July 2nd, 2019
World Cup goals always carry massive significance, as was certainly the case for Alex Morgan in the 2019 World Cup semifinal. Although the USWNT was a favorite to win the tournament, they were facing a tough English side eager to fully break onto the national stage. Having never reached a World Cup final, this was finally England’s chance to cross that final barrier. The atmosphere surrounding the game was electric. Christen Press opened up the scoring with a powerful header in the 10th minute, but Ellen White’s tidy finish off Beth Mead’s cross in the 19th minute levelled the scoresheet. Ten minutes later, and Alex Morgan, as she’s done so many times for the USWNT, floated a header past England goalkeeper to give the United States the goal ahead goal. The forward ran to the corner flag and posed as if she was sipping a cup of tea. The iconic celebration drew attention worldwide as fans and pundits tried to tease out the true meaning of her pose. Morgan claims it was in reference to her British friend Sophie Turner who frequently uses the phrase “that’s the tea,” but many frustrated English fans took offense, and felt as if the American star was making fun of their culture. Regardless of its meaning, the goal and celebration were both memorable, and certainly made for a special 30th birthday for Alex Morgan.
- Manchester City vs Manchester United, October 23rd, 2011
Mario Balotelli has made a name for himself from both his on the field brilliance and his off the field antics that often draw unwanted attention from the media. His time spent with Manchester City was marked by several of these incidents. Balotelli found himself under intense scrutiny from the English press, and wanted to make a statement in the 2011 Manchester derby. Players frequently requested compression shirts for under their jerseys, and were also able to ask that particular phrases were printed on the shirts, so long as they weren’t inappropriate or offensive. Leading up to the derby, Balotelli had a conversation with the man in charge of the City kits. After rejecting a few initial ideas, Balotelli decided to print “Why always me?” on his shirt. The simple phrase called into question why so much attention and negativity was directed at him, especially considering how talented he was. When City travelled to Old Trafford for the derby, Balotelli was wearing the shirt under his jersey, prepared to reveal it should he score. Fittingly, he scored the first of what would eventually be a six goal victory for city. As soon as the ball hit the back of the net, he lifted his jersey over his head to reveal his message. Balotelli stood expressionless, basking in the groans of thousands of United fans, surrounded by his celebrating teammates in a dramatic display of defiance. Balotelli is a player known for not celebrating his goals, but when he does, the celebrations are memorable. And, of course, because he pulled his jersey over his head, Balotelli was booked, making it only that much more iconic.