Players have received a lot of stick for celebrating recently, but shouldn’t they be allowed to celebrate how they want to?
Former Hammer Rio Ferdinand took a coin to the eye-brow when he celebrated Man United’s winning goal against rivals Man City a couple of weeks ago. Shortly after that incident at the Etihad Stadium, West Ham played host to Liverpool at Upton Park.
Afterwards, some Hammers fans heavily criticised Jonjo Shelvey for celebrating with Liverpool supporters when James Collins turned the ball into his own net attempting to prevent Shelvey from scoring. Those objecting to Shelvey’s celebration did so because of his past affiliation with West Ham – the 20-year-old midfielder supposedly supported West Ham as a boy and also played for the Hammers’ youth team.
Glenn Johnson and Joe Cole, both former West Ham players who respectfully chose not to celebrate when they scored for Liverpool in the same game, were held up as the example of how Hammers fans believe ex-players should conduct themselves when coming back to haunt West Ham. While it was nice of Johnson and Cole to acknowledge West Ham’s influence on their career by not celebrating their goals, demanding that from every player with even the most tenuous link to the club is unrealistic as well as unfair.
As football fans, we all know the tremendous joy that we feel when our team scores a goal. Imagine, then, how intense that emotion would be if you had scored that goal and had thousands of people ecstatic about what you had just done. The thought of containing that emotion so you do not offend the fans of the club you used to play for is a tough one to entertain.
It is easy for fans and the media to take the moral highground and try to dictate how players should behave, but we all know that both football fans and the media have those among them who have no right to tell anyone how to conduct themselves.
Fans shout and chant the most awful things to players and then expect them to show respect when they score. Where is the sense in that? Players are humans who grew up loving football just as we all do, the difference is, they were blessed with natural talent and have worked hard to experience the ecstasy of football first hand.
Yes, they are paid a lot of money, but that does not mean they should have to be whiter than white. Footballers should be able to celebrate their goals in whatever way they see fit. The only argument against letting a player celebrate however he wants to is that it would antagonise fans and make the particularly stupid ones leap over hoardings and try to tear the player’s face off.Those fans should just grow up.
If players were given the freedom to behave like human beings, they might actually feel more at ease interacting with the fans who crave their attention so much, beginning with how they celebrate.