The players aren’t even in their kits, the game hasn’t kicked off, the net hasn’t even rippled and yet the ‘will he or won’t he’ question has already been answered: Frank Lampard will… NOT celebrate. Lampard plays against former club Chelsea this weekend and has announced that he will not celebrate if he scores a goal for Man City. There is no word on whether Frank Lampard will celebrate if he scores against former former club West Ham but we know for certain that he won’t celebrate against Chelsea. Personally, I wish he would celebrate. I wish he would run over and offer to shake Mourinho’s hand.
Goals should be celebrated. Goals are rare. Goals are fun. Football is 90 minutes of tension and two minutes of release. We, the fans, need you, the player, to celebrate the goals with us, as fans. That’s why the most honest goal celebration of all time was when Thierry Henry scored for Arsenal against Leeds.
Henry had returned to Arsenal after several years playing in Spain and the USA and scored for the club which gave him his career. His celebration is pure, there is no ego, he had just scored for the club he not only played for but the one he supports. It is the celebration of a fan, not a player:
“I am enjoying the club as a fan where I wasn’t before: now I know how people feel when they score for the club they support.” — Thierry Henry
On the other end of the spectrum are the players who set up elaborate choreographed celebrations for when they score. These take the form of everything from Bebeto simply rocking the baby to sleep to the Icelandic team who turned three players into a bicycle.
And then there are the players who dance, sometimes with a teammate. It is always funny to me to watch these professional athletes, who should be fabulous dancers, bust a move that looks like Humpty Dumpty on crack.
Any time I see one of these dance-related goal celebrations I feel exactly like Andrei Arshavin in the 20th second of the video above. Did I just walk in on something? Should I get the door? Do you need a towel?
But at least they are celebrating the goal. The most disingenuous and sentimental of all the goal celebrations is the so called “non-celebration”.
First, the non-celebration is a goal celebration. There is no way around it. They often even tacitly acknowledge this fact by admitting that the reason they are not celebrating is because they want to honor their old team. But honoring your old team is celebrating them and your legacy with them. It’s a celebration of your history together by not celebrating.
Second, the non-celebration is always choreographed. The player has a move in mind and executes that move exactly how they planned it. It’s pre-planned, that’s why Frank Lampard’s dad is telling us his son won’t celebrate.
And third, it’s fake. Robin van Persie refused to celebrate his first goal for Man U against Arsenal, holding his hands up. But when the two teams met again and Man U beat Arsenal 1-0 at Old Trafford? He scored and celebrated like Walt Whitman watching the young men swim in the river. He ran over to Wayne Rooney and he and his teammates all got into a pile of men that would have made Uncle Walt want to engirth them.
That’s because these so-called non-goal celebrations are fugacious. Not one person would expect Lampard to refuse to celebrate against his former former club West Ham or for van Persie to refuse to celebrate against Feyenoord. Those moments have passed and once the player gets their obligatory one “non-celebration” out of the way, they are free to sing the body electric.
Worse, why would they refuse to celebrate and yet not refuse to score the goal? They are ok with doing their job, taking the money from their new fans, and beating their old team but in no way want to celebrate the goal? That seems odd. There is no suggestion that Lampard would refuse to take a penalty against this team he supposedly loves so much. There is no suggestion that he would refuse to score if presented the opportunity. This is because Frank Lampard is a professional footballer. Lampard is paid well to do a job and that job is to kick the ball into the net and he will do that whether he celebrates after or not.
But in the end, goals are fun. Goal celebrations should be fun. If Frank Lampard should score against Chelsea this weekend I hope he finds a way to incorporate both his need for gloppy sentimentalism and the fun of the celebration into one act: I hope he does a lap of appreciation for the Chelsea fans and the City fans (both of whom deserve a celebration) and ends the lap by offering to shake Jose Mourinho’s hand.