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The best celebrations in UEFA Champions League history?

We mark the start of 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling by looking back on some of the most memorable celebrations in UEFA Champions League history.

Planned or spontaneous, the way scorers mark the scoring of goals is one of the great spectacles of modern football. As we mark 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling, does anything encapsulate the drama, joy and class of the competition quite like these celebrations?


Over the course of the 2021/22 season, UEFA will ask fans to vote for the most iconic moments since the rebranding of the European Cup in the early 1990s. ‘30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling’ will give fans an opportunity to vote on everything from goals to memorable celebrations, unforgettable comebacks, sensational skills and impossible saves.

José Mourinho's touchline sprint

Is Mourinho's touchline sprint your favourite celebration?

Manchester United 1-1 Porto
09/03/2004, round of 16 second leg

Sir Alex Ferguson's United trailed 2-1 from the first leg, but looked set to progress on away goals as they held on to a 1-0 lead at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes having found the target on 31 minutes. However, the 2002/03 UEFA Cup winners turned the tables at the death, Costinha finishing after Tim Howard failed to hold a Benni McCarthy free-kick.

Elated coach José Mourinho pelted up the touchline to celebrate, and had sympathy for his opposite number afterwards. "I understand why Ferguson is a bit emotional," he said. "You would be really sad if your team got as clearly dominated as that by an opponent built on maybe 10% of the budget."

Cristiano Ronaldo's shrug

Is Ronaldo's shrug your favourite celebration?

Man. United 2-1 Sporting CP
27/11/2007, group stage

"I think he always wants to do well against his old club because he owes a lot to Sporting," Sir Alex Ferguson said of Cristiano Ronaldo after a stunning added-time free-kick had earned his United side a 2-1 win against the Lisbon club, prompting a superbly nonchalant celebration. "They found him as a boy. He respects that."

Enjoying the afterglow of that victory, the notorious No7 was not afraid to think big, saying: "I think we have the team, we have the group, we have the coaches – we have everything to win the Champions League." Sure enough, they would beat Chelsea on penalties in that season's decider in Moscow.

Lionel Messi's boot kiss

Is Messi's boot kiss your favourite celebration?

Barcelona 2-0 Man. United
27/05/2009, final

Lionel Messi had missed Barcelona's 2006 UEFA Champions League final triumph over Arsenal, and was determined not to let the moment pass him by when Barça reached the 2009 decider, telling UEFA.com: "I need to enjoy this final because there are many players who don't have the opportunity to win the Champions League."

The match had been billed as a head-to-head between Messi and United’s Ronaldo, already titans of the world game, but the Argentinian was the hands-down winner, heading Barcelona's second and then celebrating (somewhat confusingly) by whipping off his right boot and kissing it.

Ronaldinho's dance

Is Ronaldinho's dance your favourite celebration?

Milan 1-1 Real Madrid
03/11/2009, group stage

Perhaps the most flamboyant player of his age, Ronaldinho's moves off the ball were almost as impressive as his touches on it. The Brazilian marked several goals with little dances, but his penalty opener against Real Madrid provoked perhaps the most succinct little shimmy of them all.

It was very much on-brand for Ronaldinho, who also sparkled for Paris and Barcelona. "When you have the ball at your feet, you are free," he once wrote. "It is almost like you're hearing music. That feeling will make you spread joy to others. You’re smiling because football is fun. Why would you be serious? Your goal is to spread joy."

Didier Drogba’s trophy dash

Is Drogba's trophy dash your favourite celebration?

Bayern 1-1 Chelsea (aet, Chelsea win 4-3 on pens)
19/05/2012, final

After eight years chasing the UEFA Champions League dream at Chelsea, including a red card in their 2008 final defeat, Didier Drogba had every right to be overwhelmed by the occasion as he followed up scoring the equalising header in the 2012 decider against Bayern by coolly converting the winning penalty in the shoot-out.

"I'm really happy and I don't know if there are enough words to describe how I feel now," the Ivorian said after the final whistle, his celebration with the trophy saying more than words ever could. "We gave everything. I don't know if we have enough energy to party tonight but we're going to find it."

Erling Haaland’s 'Zen'

Is Haaland's 'Zen' your favourite celebration?

Dortmund 2-1 Paris
18/02/2020, round of 16 first leg

Erling Haaland stirred up something of a hornets' nest when he celebrated the first of his two goals against Paris in the 2019/20 round of 16 with a spontaneous bit of meditation. "I really enjoy meditation," he said. "It makes me feel calm and gives me tranquillity. This is why I sometimes celebrate like that when I score."

Paris players evidently took note. After they won the return fixture 2-0, their players marked the occasion with a post-match zen moment of their own. Haaland took it well. "Getting knocked out of the Champions League annoyed me, but I was glad they did that celebration," he said. "I don’t mind at all, to be honest.”