Robbie Keane – a bright light amongst mediocre celebrations in modern football

Originally published on my personal blog on August 24th 2011.

Robbie Keane scored his first goal for LA Galaxy recently, rounding the – frankly awful – goalkeeper after latching on to a David Beckham hoof from the halfway line.

The boyhood Republic of Ireland fan, it is widely thought, has been past his best for quite some time, falling out of favour at Tottenham and recently enduring a pretty torrid loan spell at West Ham.

So, to see the former-Leeds hitman score on his debut and proceed to perform his trademark celebration was lovely.

Some would say that Keane’s celebration is embarrassing, that in fact all pre-planned celebrations are sad and pathetic (see Starjnan for a perfect example). Some would also argue that Keane should spend less time on his stupid celebration and should focus more on the football – just get on with the game and stop wasting everyone’s time, youclichéd prick.

Those are probably the same people who think that a mass brawl on a football pitch between players – in which no one is hurt – is anything other than compelling (and hilarious) viewing; they might also think that Emmanuel Frimpong’s words of wisdom for Samir Nasri on Twitter showcased the midfielder’s sheer arrogance, and it was therefore proof that young players need to keep their mouths shut and concentrate on their football ALL THE TIME. Not, you know, that he was just voicing an opinion or anything.

These people need to lighten up.

The best celebrations have great impact. Julius Agahowa’s was nothing short of incredible and gave fans something to cheer about (as well as the actual goal itself). Benjani’s is very simple but at least some thought, clearly, goes into it. Alan Shearer had a trademark celebration and it was always a delight (unless you’re a Sunderland fan/Shearer-hater) to see him raise his hand aloft. In the same way, David Beckham’s – against Greece most famously – was full of impact – although somewhat ruined by Rio Ferdinand getting in the bloody way (not to mention the fact that the man stood behind Beckham – he didn’t mount him, thankfully – was Emile Heskey).

These celebrations put smiles on faces; some may make kids stand still in amazement; others will make fully grown adults want to rip their own hearts out of their bodies because of the sheer passion on show.

The modern football celebration has a pretty limited repertoire; a knee-slide into the corner; a fist-pump, usually followed by an arms-out-wide stance allowing a teammate to mount the scorer. These are tedious celebrations. (And don’t even get me started on badge-kissing).

So, surely in a sport that can sometimes feel like the narrative has been composed even before kick-off, a little bit of inventiveness – despite it’s slight repetitiveness – should be applauded?

In a car park full of mediocre Honda Civics, it’d be nice to see a classic Mini; it might be old, it’s certainly predictable in the modern world and it might, because of this, be a little bit lame – but at least it’s… it’s… well it’s something.

In a world full of badly executed knee slides, players being flattened by schoolboy pile-ons and loyalty-less footballers kissing the badge on their shirt in a vain attempt to get the fans on side – give me a cartwheel, forward roll and gun signal any day of the week.

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