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Top 15 players who refused to celebrate after scoring against their former clubs

In the world of football, scoring a goal is often met with jubilant celebrations, a moment of triumph for both the player and their team. However, there are occasions when a player chooses to forego this tradition, opting instead to show restraint and respect when scoring against their former club. Here, we delve into the careers of four notable players who displayed this graceful gesture.

1. Phil Coutinho

In a historic and unforgettable match between Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on August 14, 2020, one moment stood out not only for its significance on the pitch but also for the display of respect it symbolized. Amidst Bayern’s stunning 8-2 victory over Barcelona, former Barcelona player Philippe Coutinho found himself in a unique position.

Having joined Bayern Munich on loan from Barcelona in August 2019, Coutinho returned to face his former club in a match that would redefine footballing history. Despite the magnitude of the occasion and the emphatic nature of Bayern’s triumph, Coutinho showcased remarkable restraint and humility.

Scoring twice against Barcelona during the match, Coutinho refrained from celebrating either goal. His actions spoke volumes about his character and his respect for the club where he had previously plied his trade. Amidst the frenzy of goals and celebrations, Coutinho’s dignified response stood out as a testament to his professionalism and appreciation for his former teammates and supporters.

Coutinho’s decision not to celebrate underscored the depth of his connection to Barcelona and the respect he held for the club despite his temporary departure. It was a gesture that resonated with fans worldwide, highlighting the human side of football amidst the intense competition on the field.

As Bayern Munich’s resounding victory reverberated across the footballing world, Coutinho’s classy gesture served as a poignant reminder that while the game is defined by moments of triumph and glory, it is also characterized by acts of humility, sportsmanship, and respect. In a match filled with drama and spectacle, Coutinho’s dignified response shone brightly, earning him admiration and respect from fans and peers alike.

2. Mohamed Salah

Salah usually has muted his celebrations against his former clubs.

After scoring for Liverpool against Chelsea in 2017 he did not celebrate, although he said this was to pay tribute to those killed in the Sinai mosque attack.

Salah’s cracking goal in the 2-0 win over Chelsea during the 2018/19 campaign, saw him pull off the calming yoga tree pose. His teammates went wild around him and eventually barged him off his one-legged stance.

While his equalising penalty against Chelsea in the 1-1 draw back in August 2021, resulted in a mild fist pump.

He also scored twice against AS Roma in the Champions League, but once again did not celebrate. He had finished the previous campaign as top scorer for Roma and was somewhat apologetic following both of his goals in the 5-2 victory.

The same went for the three occasions he netted against another of his former Italian clubs, Fiorentina.

We are expecting a little bit more from Salah this weekend. A Stuart Pearce-style redemptive shout perhaps.

3. Jesse Lingard

It was a goal worthy of a fervoured celebration but Jesse Lingard was a study of calm after firing Manchester United’s winner in the dying moments of September’s Premier League encounter with West Ham.

Lingard enjoyed a successful loan spell at the Hammers during the 2020/21 campaign and despite scoring what proved to be the matchwinner, his decision not to celebrate was borne out of a respect for the east London club and their hand in his rejuvenation.

West Ham fans are a notoriously fiery bunch against ex-players, just ask Paul Ince, so Lingard probably did the right thing keeping it calm.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo

CR7 did not celebrate against former clubs on a couple of occasions while playing for Real Madrid.

In the last 16 of the 2012/13 Champions League, his goal helped Real Madrid progress 3-2 on aggregate against Manchester United. As in the first leg, he held his hands up for a quiet celebration, showing his love for the Manchester United fans – a love which was reignited in 2021.

The Portuguese record goalscorer also netted against his first professional team, Sporting Lisbon, in the 2016/17 Champions League.

His free-kick proved too good for Rui Patricio before Alvaro Morata notched to seal a 2-1 win for Madrid. 

When asked why he chose not to celebrate, he simply responded: “They made me who I am.”

5. Frank Lampard

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard came back to haunt his former club, scoring for Manchester City to rescue a valuable point for the Citizens.

Aged 36, Lampard, who scored a hugely impressive 211 goals in his time at Stamford Bridge, was at Man City following a loan move from MLS club New York City.

His name was chanted by Chelsea fans before the match but they were not in such fine voice when he volleyed home from a James Milner cross to make it 1-1.

Mobbed by team-mates, Lampard remained calmness personified, as befits a player who spent 13 years and made 648 appearances in the blue of Chelsea.

6. Denis Law

Perhaps one of the most memorable goals against a former club was scored by ex-Manchester United icon Denis Law for Manchester City.

Law scored for City with an impudent back-heel but the lack of expression on his face told the story as the goal ultimately relegated his former club on the last day of the 1973/74 First Division campaign.

Law said years afterwards that he felt “awful” after scoring and silencing the crowd. That back-heel also proved to be his last ever kick as he was substituted immediately after and then went on to retire.

7. Robin van Persie

The Dutch goalscoring machine caused controversy in 2012, leaving Arsenal to join rivals Manchester United in search of a Premier League title.

Sir Alex Ferguson had convinced the striker to join United, following a season in which Van Persie netted 30 league goals to win the Golden Boot.

Before United’s first meeting with Arsenal, Van Persie said that he would not celebrate if he scored. Just three minutes had elapsed when he proved his point, putting his hands in the air with almost no emotion on his face. In the reverse fixture he opted not to celebrate once more after scoring from the penalty spot.

The following season, though, there was controversy when Van Persie went against his word and celebrated a crucial goal against Arsenal, riling the Gunners fans in the process.

8. Mario Gotze

PSV attacking midfielder Mario Gotze rose through the ranks at Borussia Dortmund, becoming one of the biggest talents in Germany.

Rivals Bayern Munich triggered his release clause in 2013 and the German international made the move to Munich.

In his first league game against his first club, Gotze was subjected to boos from his former supporters after entering the field in place of Mario Mandzukic.

Despite the reception, Gotze opted not to celebrate after powering a shot into the far corner of the net, instead putting his hands in the air as a way of apology.

9. Gabriel Batistuta

Fiorentina’s all-time top goalscorer and club legend Gabriel Batistuta, also known as ‘Batigol’, moved to rivals AS Roma in 2000 and inevitably scored against his former club in his first season with Roma.

After netting from 25 yards to win the game 1-0, the Argentinian looked visibly upset and was reduced to tears on the pitch, perhaps a strange reaction following what should be a joyous moment for any player.

Batistuta later explained that he felt the emotions of the Fiorentina fans, knowing that they would return home disappointed. He went on to say that Fiorentina held a big place in his heart having had three children born in the city while he lived there.

At the end of the game, he even ran over to the 3,000 visiting fans and applauded them before leaving the Olympic Stadium in tears at the end of an emotional night.

10. Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba is revered as one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players, thanks to his numerous match-winning performances and unforgettable moments in a blue shirt. However, in March 2014, Drogba found himself in an unfamiliar position as he returned to Stamford Bridge with Turkish side Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League. When Drogba netted a goal against Chelsea, he chose not to celebrate, a gesture that underscored his deep respect and affection for the club and its supporters.

11. Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres, once a darling of the Kop during his time at Liverpool, made a high-profile move to Chelsea in January 2011. When Torres faced his former club for the first time, emotions ran high. However, after scoring a goal against Liverpool, Torres resisted the urge to celebrate, honoring the special bond he shared with the club and its fans during his prolific spell at Anfield.

12. Cesc Fàbregas

Cesc Fàbregas, the elegant midfielder renowned for his vision and passing range, enjoyed successful stints with both Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League. In October 2014, when Fàbregas returned to the Emirates Stadium with Chelsea, he faced his former club Arsenal for the first time since his departure. Despite finding the back of the net, Fàbregas opted not to celebrate, a gesture that reflected his gratitude towards Arsenal and the significant role they played in his development as a player.

In each of these instances, the players demonstrated humility and class by choosing to honor their former clubs rather than bask in personal glory. While goals are undoubtedly moments of joy for players, these acts of restraint serve as reminders of the enduring respect and admiration players hold for the clubs that shaped their careers.

13. Luis Suarez

Luis scored an important goal against Barcelona in October 2, 2021 and did not celebrate out of respect to the club that gave him his best time of his career

14. Declan Rice

Declan Rice refused to celebrate after scoring Arsenal’s sixth goal as they thrashed his former club West Ham.

Rice completed a bumper £105million move to Arsenal over the summer and was booed by some home fans at the London Stadium. The midfielder was jeered by some supporters when his name was read out ahead of the game as well as when he got on the ball during the game.

There was a section of Hammers fans who did applaud Rice when he took a corner early on in the fixture, but they were largely drowned out by boos. And notorious Arsenal fan Piers Morgan branded the supporters who booed Rice “classless”.

15. Mbappe kylian

Mbappe’s decision not to celebrate scoring against Monaco could focus on the respect and sportsmanship he displayed, highlighting his humility and appreciation for his former club. It could also delve into the significance of such gestures in football culture and how they are perceived by fans and players alike. Additionally, discussing Mbappe’s journey from Monaco to his current club and how that shaped his relationship with both teams could add depth to the story.

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