The best World Cup celebrations of all time

By Thomas Oakey of IES | Rex Features/Colorsport
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A countdown of the most memorable celebrations in World Cup history

Counting down the 14 most memorable goal celebrations in World Cup history See Gallery

Goals at the World Cup are always considered special and what makes some of them stand out at each tournament are the celebrations that follow. But which one is the best? Click or swipe the image above to count down the greatest World Cup celebrations of all time.

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14. Miroslav Klose (Germany vs. Argentina, 2010)

A celebration that owes its fame to its longevity, Germany striker Miroslav Klose’s somersault first appeared at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, after the striker scored his second goal against Saudi Arabia. Eight years and a further 12 goals later, against Argentina in South Africa, Klose was still front-flipping after scoring his second of the quarter-final.

He’ll be 36 years old by the time the 2014 tournament starts, but don’t expect that to stop the gymnastics if he scores for a record-equalling 15th time.

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13. David Beckham (England vs. Argentina, 2002)

If ever a moment has encapsulated World Cup redemption, it’s David Beckham’s elation at scoring a penalty against Argentina in 2002. A pariah in his homeland after a costly sending-off against the South Americans four years earlier, the England captain’s goal gave England a 1-0 victory in 2002, and his grab-and-kiss of the shirt signified the weight of history being lifted from the midfielder’s shoulders.

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12. Gordon Strachan (Scotland vs. West Germany, 1986)

When diminutive Scotland midfielder Gordon Strachan scored against West Germany in 1986 he made an amusing attempt to climb over the advertising boards. The 1.68m-tall player was mocking both his lack of height and other players who jump into the crowd, much to the amusement of everyone watching.

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11. Ahn Jung-Hwan (South Korea vs. USA, 2002)

When South Korea’s Ahn Jung-Hwan scored a late equaliser against the USA in 2002 he ran to the corner flag and mimicked a skater’s movements. The celebration looked pretty impressive but Ahn was protesting against the disqualification of compatriot Kim Dong-Sung from the 2002 Winter Olympics speed skating final, a ruling that handed the gold medal to a US rival.

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10. Brain Laudrup (Denmark vs. Brazil, 1998)

Not all celebrations are about explosions of emotion; sometimes playing it cool is just as memorable. After smashing in Denmark’s equaliser against Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup, Brian Laudrup regained his composure to slide across the grass before taking up an expressionless, model-like pose. It was a nonchalant celebration that matched his playing style.

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9. Julius Aghahowa (Nigeria vs. Sweden, 2002)

In 2002, Nigerian forward Julius Aghahowa took acrobatics to a whole new level by celebrating a goal for the Super Eagles against Sweden with a head-spinning five back flips before finishing with a somersault. Fortunately, for the striker’s knees at least, that was Nigeria’s only goal at the tournament.

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8. Rashidi Yekini (Nigeria vs. Bulgaria, 1994)

Eight years earlier, Aghahowa’s compatriot the late Rashidi Yekini delivered one of the most impassioned celebrations after scoring his nation’s first-ever World Cup goal. The forward gripped the back of the net and let out a fervent cry, in a display of emotion suitable for such an important moment in Nigerian football history.

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7. Papa Bouba Diop (Senegal vs. France, 2002)

Senegal were the surprise team at the 2002 World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals to equal the best performance of any African side ever in the tournament. They scored seven goals along the way, but their first from Papa Bouba Diop is the most memorable - partly because it helped defeat reigning world champions France, and partly because of the team’s dance around Diop’s shirt in the corner.

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6. Siphiwe Tshabalala (South Africa vs. Mexico, 2010)

South Africa, the hosts of the 2010 tournament, marked their arrival on the world stage with a team celebration, gathering on the sidelines to deliver a rehearsed dance routine after Siphiwe Tshabalala’s equalising goal against Mexico in the first match.

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5. Diego Maradona (Argentina vs. Greece, 1994)

Infamous because of its repercussions, Diego Maradona’s celebration after a fine goal against Greece in 1994 signalled the unfortunate end of the player's international career. He sprinted wild-eyed towards the television cameras and roared so ferociously that it aroused the suspicions of drug testers. Maradona tested positive for banned substance ephedrine and was expelled from the tournament. The great El Diego never played for his country again.

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4. Pele (Brazil vs. Italy, 1970)

Before the 2014 World Cup, Brazil had scored 210 goals in 19 World Cup tournaments – which is a lot of goal celebrations. However, one that sticks in the mind for many is Pelé’s majestic leap with clenched fists into the arms of Jairzinho, after scoring the first goal of the 1970 final against Italy. It was Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal and it came during the first final televised in full colour.

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3. Bebeto (Brazil vs. Holland, 1994)

Twenty-four years after Pele's moment, the Brazil team would spawn another classic football celebration: the ‘rocking baby’. Copied ever since, Brazilian forward Bebeto – in honour of his newly born child – began to rock an imaginary infant alongside teammates Romário and Mazinho, after scoring against the Netherlands in the 1994 quarter-finals. The subject of Bebeto’s celebrations has since grown up to represent Brazil too, at under-20 level.

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2. Roger Milla (Cameroon vs. Romania, 1990)

In 1990 Cameroon striker Roger Milla proved that, at the World Cup, you’re never too old to dance. He became the tournament’s oldest goalscorer when he struck twice against Romania aged 38 – a feat he celebrated by gyrating his hips in a memorable wiggle by the corner flag. Milla and his dancing hips continued to defy the ageing process, scoring twice more in 1990 and then breaking his own record in 1994 to score at the age of 42 against Russia.

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1. Marco Tardelli (Italy vs. West Germany, 1982)

The number one World Cup goal celebration of all time is, of course, Italian Marco Tardelli’s lung-busting sprint in the final of the 1982 World Cup in Spain. After he’d scored the Azzurri’s second goal against West Germany, the image of Tardelli - on the verge of tears and ecstatically screaming while sprinting towards his own bench - is indelibly seared on the minds of all those who’ve seen it.

It is a celebration that epitomises the unbridled delight of scoring at the World Cup, and has given rise to its own specific name: 'L'urlo di Tardelli', or the “Tardelli scream”.