Twenty years ago on Wednesday, Robbie Fowler scored a penalty against Everton in the Merseyside derby. He then kneeled down in front of the opposition supporters, put a finger to his left nostril and crawled along the byline while pretending to sniff it, like he was snorting a line of cocaine.
It remains one of the most controversial goal celebrations in the history of football.
But he is not the only player guilty of overstepping the mark and blurring the line between expressing joy and inciting controversy.
These are some of the most outrageous of all goal celebrations…
Robbie Fowler vs Everton
Robbie Fowler got down on all fours and sniffed the byline after scoring for Liverpool in 1999
Fowler mimicked cocaine snorting as he celebrated in front of Everton fans after scoring
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Long the target for unfounded allegations of drug-taking, 20 years ago Robbie Fowler snapped.
After scoring in the Merseyside derby at Anfield, Fowler celebrated by getting down on all fours and sniffing the goal line in front of the Everton end.
He did it not once, but twice, and goaded the opposition fans of Liverpool’s most hated rivals.
His imitation of snorting a line of cocaine drew widespread criticism, though not from his manager Gerard Houllier, who attempted to deflect the storm with humour, claiming he was eating the grass, a celebration picked up from Rigobert Song.
Fowler was hit with a four-match ban, which came hot on the heels of a two-match suspension for homophobic taunts towards Chelsea left-back Graeme Le Saux the previous month.
‘I have been greatly distressed and hurt over the last few years by the constant allegations levelled against me regarding drug use, which have not only affected me but have been very upsetting to my family as well,’ was Fowler’s explanation.
Emmanuel Adebayor vs Arsenal
Emmanuel Adebayor was public enemy No 1 after leaving Arsenal for Manchester City in 2009
He goaded the Arsenal fans after sprinting length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them
‘There is only so much abuse a man can take until he reaches breaking point. I could not understand some of the Arsenal players being disrespectful towards me.’
Like Fowler before him, Emmanuel Adebayor snapped when he scored for Manchester City against his former club in September 2009.
He was one of the marquee signings of the new Sheikh Mansour era, an astonishing £25million acquisition from a Premier League rival who City were intent on overhauling.
His headed goal was the clincher, making it 3-1 to City in a 4-2 win. And he responded by sprinting the length of the pitch and performing an impressive knee slide in front of the away supporters.
The Arsenal fans, frothing at the mouth and barely held back by the stewards, responded by redecorating the Etihad Stadium, ripping up their seats and chucking anything at their former hero.
There are few more iconic – and infamous – celebrations in Premier League history.
Paul Gascoigne vs Celtic
Paul Gascoigne was on the end of IRA death threats for this celebration when at Rangers
Never one to shy away from controversy, this is the first of two entries for Paul Gascoigne.
Throwing the prodigiously talented but deeply troubled Englishman into the Old Firm melting pot in the mid-90s was never going to be without incident.
And so it was in 1995 when he goaded Celtic fans by pretending to play the flute after scoring at Parkhead.
Gascoigne knew that his celebration was provocative, but he did not realise that he was miming an Orange walk marcher playing ‘The Sash’, a symbol of Loyalist supremacy and sure to infuriate Catholics.
As a result he was fined £20,000 by Rangers and revealed years later that he received IRA death threats.
Paul Gascoigne vs Scotland
Gazza marked his iconic goal against Scotland at Euro 96 by mimicking the ‘dentist’s chair’
A legendary goal, and an even more legendary celebration. One touch was it all took for Colin Hendry to be left on the floor, watching the ball sail over his head, and another to rifle the ball past Andy Goram.
What followed remains etched in folklore. Gazza sprinted away before laying down on his back and, with the help of his team-mates and a water bottle, re-enacted a scene that had got them into tabloid trouble in the buildup to Euro 96.
The England squad were in Hong Kong for a warm-up tournament and had been granted a night off before things went awry. One thing led to another before alcoholic spirits were being poured neat down the mouths of Gascoigne and Teddy Sheringham as they lay prone on a ‘dentist’s chair’.
The images prompted scorn and fury back home, with one front page labelling Gazza ‘disgracefool’. And so the celebration not only marked getting one over the auld enemy, but also a cathartic moment in a glorious summer for English football.
It turned the momentum towards Terry Venables’ side and summed up both Gascoigne the footballer and person in one.
Nicolas Anelka vs West Ham
Nicolas Anelka tarnished his reputation with the ‘quenelle’ celebration for West Brom in 2013
Nicolas Anelka arrived in English football in 1997 but it was only 16 years later and at his sixth Premier League club that ‘Le Sulk’ courted controversy that would forever sully his reputation.
Anelka was 34 when he returned in 2013, this time for West Brom. He did little for the club until scoring his first goals against West Ham that December.
He celebrated by performing a ‘quenelle’, an anti-Semitic hand gesture and inverted Nazi salute popularised back in France by his comedian friend Dieudonne.
Anelka contended that the gesture was solely anti-establishment, but the FA banned him for five matches. His contract was terminated in March 2014.
Wayne Rooney vs Tottenham
Wayne Rooney was front page news when he boxed with Phil Bardsley in his kitchen
He mimicked his knockout in the video with his celebration against Tottenham in 2015
Timing was always one of Wayne Rooney’s greatest skills.
Arriving on the scene at the right time helped him score that stunning volley against Newcastle, and indeed put paid to champions Arsenal when he scored his first Premier League goal in 2002.
So when Rooney made front-page news in March 2015 after being apparently knocked out during a mock punch-up in his kitchen with former team-mate Phil Bardsley, it was no surprise to see him score later that day.
He fired home Manchester United’s third goal during a blistering first-half against Tottenham and then made light of the situation.
He threw a couple of air punches and then fell backwards, apparently KO’d, to really ram home the point.
Rooney said afterwards: ’That’s the world we live in today. It’s in my own home, it’s not public, it’s what friends do – they mess around in the house. It was a couple of mates in a private house, and somehow it’s managed to get on the front page of a national newspaper.’
Luis Suarez vs Everton
Luis Suarez made David Moyes eat his words when he scored for Liverpool against Everton
Moyes said the Uruguayan had a history of diving before the 2012 Goodison Park clash
‘I think he [Suarez] has got history. But I’m not the referee. It’s a hard job for the referees, it really is, but it will turn supporters away from it if they think players are conning their way to results.’
When David Moyes made the grave mistake of labelling Luis Suarez a diver in the build-up to the Merseyside derby in October 2012 he was inviting the inevitable.
Having opened the scoring, (it was eventually awarded to Leighton Baines as an own-goal) Suarez ran down the touchline and celebrated with a swallow dive in front of the Everton manager.
‘I thought it was great,’ admitted Moyes. ‘I actually quite liked that and it is the sort of thing I’d have done if I’d scored. He is going to have to dive in front of a lot of managers now, isn’t he?’
One player was booked for simulation that day, as it happens: Everton captain Phil Neville.
Mario Balotelli vs Manchester United
Mario Balotelli unleashed this T-shirt message after setting off fireworks in his bathroom
‘Why always me?’ Indeed, Mario.
On the eve of the Manchester derby in October 2011, only Balotelli would decide to celebrate Bonfire Night a few weeks early and set off fireworks in his bathroom.
By his own high, self-destructive standards this was something else. Police and fire crews were called to his home at 1am on the Saturday, with a trip to Old Trafford following on the Sunday lunchtime.
Few would have blamed Roberto Mancini for dropping the Italian livewire for the top-of-the-table clash against City’s biggest rivals. Yet the notorious disciplinarian somehow stayed faithful and started him against United.
Balotelli repaid his manager handsomely with a brace, the first of which has gone down in Premier League legend.
After sidefooting the ball into the bottom corner from 18 yards out, he turned around and pulled his shirt over his head to reveal those three infamous words.
Craig Bellamy vs Barcelona
Craig Bellamy had got into a scrape with John-Arne Riise and a golf club in La Manga in 2007
A warm-weather training camp has become a tradition in football, yet it has so often been fraught with complication.
Liverpool were no exceptions when, in 2007, Rafa Benitez decided to take his side to La Manga ahead of a Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona.
What followed is now infamous. One night, Craig Bellamy wanted John-Arne Riise to sing karaoke, but Riise didn’t fancy it. Bellamy did not want to take no for an answer, but perhaps went slightly overboard with his response, as Riise recalls it in his autobiography: ‘I’m gonna f*****g kill you, you ginger c**t!’
Later in the night Bellamy appeared in Riise’s hotel room, with Steve Finnan alongside him, armed with a golf club.
Fittingly, it was those two who combined to score the goals as Liverpool won at the Nou Camp. And Bellamy celebrated his opener with, of course, a big old golf swing.
Nicklas Bendtner vs Portugal
Nicklas Bendtner was slapped with an £80,000 fine by UEFA for his Euro 2012 publicity stunt
UEFA took swift and immediate action when the integrity of their competition was brought into disrepute by Nicklas Bendtner at Euro 2012.
In an act of stealth marketing, the Denmark striker pulled down his red shorts to reveal his green and white underwear, emblazoned with the words Paddy Power, after scoring against Portugal in the group stage.
Appalled, UEFA slapped him with an £80,000 fine and a one-match ban, which was later footed by the Irish bookie.
Shockingly, the fine was more than the measly £65,000 they handed out to the Croatian Football Federation after racist abuse was directed at Mario Balotelli earlier in the tournament.
Xherdan Shaqiri vs Serbia
Xherdan Shaqiri formed a double-headed eagle when he scored against Serbia in 2018
In a ding-dong World Cup group match, Switzerland edged past Serbia in Kaliningrad last June after Xherdan Shaqiri raced clear in stoppage-time and kept his cool to slot home.
The Swiss star, along with team-mate Granit Xhaka earlier in the match, celebrated by putting his hands together to form a double-headed eagle, as seen on the Albanian flag.
The pair, both of Kosovan descent, were fined £7,600 after displaying a nationalist symbol that risked inflaming tensions among Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
Despite declaring independence in 2008, Serbia has still not recognised Kosovo as a state.
PS. Alan Pardew vs Manchester United
Alan Pardew’s touchline dance proved short-lived as Crystal Palace lost the 2016 FA Cup final
Let’s not forget the final of the FA Cup in 2016.
Jason Puncheon gives Crystal Palace the lead with just 12 minutes remaining: cue pandemonium in the stands and on the pitch. The camera pans to the Palace bench and Alan Pardew, who performs a now infamous, coe-turling jig, because only he knows why.
Having been just minutes away from claiming the trophy with West Ham in 2006 before Steven Gerrard intervened, perhaps Pardew thought nothing could stand in his way now.
Juan Mata equalised three minutes later and Manchester United won after extra time.
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