That mid-week game at Anfield was alright wasn’t it?
It was so eventful that even the most die-hard, militant Manchester United fan – who wears his Cantona shirt with his collar fully erect 8 days a week and has ANDY COLE tattooed across his knuckles – would have enjoyed the spectacle, if not, the end result.
It had everything. Daniel Sturridge castrated a goalkeeper. Sadio Mané sent Neymar back to the Bronze Age. And of course, it was drizzled in the drama that goes hand-in-hand with those infamous ‘European nights at Anfield.’ For the game to have lived up to the cliché any more, Stevie G would’ve had to pop down from Glasgow to belt a Neil Mellor cushioned header into the back of the net.
Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain showcased some fantastic footballers playing fantastic football. It produced five impressive goals and crucially, one iconic celebration. Regrettably, I’m not referring to the Sturridge dance, but keep it up Daniel, we’re all proud of you.
I am, of course, talking about the lesser-spotted, one-eyed Firmino.
The Brazilian’s superb piece of invention epitomises the brilliance of a well-crafted goal celebration. To summarise, Firmino had one of his eyeballs skewered on Jan Verthonghen’s index finger, made a full recovery within 3 days, scored the winner against PSG, before mocking the injury. You couldn’t write it.
Goal celebrations of that stature; that level of craft, should be placed in the same regard as a critically acclaimed film or a piece of renaissance art. They’re masterpieces. And I’m not referring to the trademark, repeated moves. I love Shearer’s arm in the air and Tim Cahill’s corner-flag sparring as much as the next man, but there is something so much more special about a one-off, moment-capturing celebration.
I’m talking Mario Balotelli asking ‘Why Always Me?’ after setting fireworks off in his own home. I’m talking about the sheer shithousery of Emmanual Adebayor running halfway across Manchester to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans. I’m talking about Dele Alli making your nan dislocate her wrist trying to turn her fingers into a monocle. It’s pure poetry.
Goal celebrations are to football what hieroglyphics were to ancient Egypt. Decades from now, we will have to explain Fortnite and the Mannequin challenge to our grandchildren, thanks to Antoine Griezmann and Jamie Vardy. We won’t reminisce about Ronaldo’s silly spinny shouty thing, but we’ll ooze over Messi holding his shirt up to the Bernabeu skyline after scoring his 500th Barcelona goal.
In a game of short-termism – where the next game is always 3 days away and players go from hero’s to zero’s within the space of a week – goal celebrations are essential time capsules. The one-eyed Firmino may never make another appearance, but its place in history is eternal.