World Cup stars get creative in celebrating goals
SAO PAULO (AP) - Flying Dutchman Arjen Robben took off straight for the goal, ran around the back side of the net, then came sliding into the sideline on his knees. He spread his arms wide, blew kisses, made a fist, pointed and stuck out his tongue.
Costa Rica's Joel Campbell, a father-to-be, stuffed the ball under his shirt, cradled it and stuck his thumb in his mouth before pointing to the sky following a goal against Uruguay.
There have been some memorable goals so far in this World Cup, along with some equally notable and animated celebrations.
Some of the theatrics are planned carefully. Others burst forth at the spur of the moment.
But are soccer players ready for "Dancing with the Stars?"
"I would say overall everyone needs to put a little more commitment into whatever they're doing," offered professional dancer Cheryl Burke, who just completed her 17th season on the show and has been catching as many games as possible.
"They could make it a little bit better by adding maybe a couple more moves or maybe even add some comedy to it, whether it's dipping a guy or twirling to the next set of guys."
For Campbell, the goal served as a tribute.
"I'm going to have a son soon, which is why I celebrated my goal the way I did," he said. "Celebrating his arrival with a World Cup goal is the best thing that can happen to me. ... It brings me such happiness to be blessed to be a father. The celebration was for the baby and for all of the family."
Colombia's Pablo Armero performed a rhythmic dance he does at every chance, even for an Adidas ad. It became a sensation in Brazil called the "Armeration" after he started doing it while playing for the Brazilian club Palmeiras in 2010.
When Oribe Peralta scored on a putback in Mexico's opener, his mouth dropped open and his arms began moving simultaneously as if he were performing biceps curls while running in triumph. He dropped to both knees for a long slip-and-slide on the wet grass.
Swarmed by teammates Dani Alves and Fred, Brazil's Neymar spread each arm out to the side and gave himself wings to soar across the field.
On Friday, the Oranje's Robin van Persie made a mad dash, teeth clenched, straight to the sideline to high-five his coach and teammates after scoring on a beautiful diving header in a 5-1 win over defending champion Spain. After his second goal, van Persie stuck out his tongue and did a leaping scissors kick.
"The ones that made me laugh are the ones to go for because people love to see that, especially when a team works so hard to create a goal and they actually score," Burke said. "A couple made me smile and laugh."
The knee slide has been among the most popular exclamation point.
Chile's Alexis Sanchez did it Friday, then teammate Jorge Valdivia ran around with his pointer fingers at his temples to signal he's crazy after scoring two minutes later.
Oscar of Brazil flopped to the turf and wept with his face to the grass as the sideline erupted. He signaled a heart with his hands.
"I just like when the emotions come and take me and you go from there," said American Mix Diskerud, who scored his first international goal in a May 27 exhibition win against Azerbaijan. "I don't really plan any celebrations. I don't have any somersaults or anything like that."
Italian forward Mario Balotelli is known for not celebrating after goals. But for the big ones, he often lets loose.
Like when he took off his shirt and flexed his muscles after scoring both goals in Italy's win over Germany in the semifinals of the 2012 European Championship. Or when he gestured to the crowd after scoring the winner against England in Italy's 2-1 victory Saturday.
Obafemi Martins of the MLS Seattle Sounders owns the acrobatic backflip. Others without that same athleticism find other ways.
Former Italy forward Alberto Gilardino mimicked a violinist when he scored against the United States at the 2006 World Cup.
In 1994, there was Brazil's Bebeto "rockin' the baby."
At the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, Ahn Jung-Hwan celebrated his tying goal for South Korea in a draw with the U.S. by swinging his arms and moving his legs in a speedskating motion imitating American Olympic star Apolo Anton Ohno. It came about four months after Ohno captured his first career gold medal in the 1,500-meter short-track at the Salt Lake City Olympics despite not crossing the finish line first. South Korean Kim Dong-Sung was disqualified.
In 1999, Liverpool star Robbie Fowler got down on his knees and put his left hand over his left nostril and simulated snorting on a white line after scoring against Everton. The display brought him a four-match suspension and fine.
Whether orchestrated or purely spontaneous, emotions are running high.
"Scoring a goal, no matter where it is, is a huge feeling," Diskerud said. "It's just an overwhelming feeling and you see 10 players chasing you to celebrate the goal you scored with them."