Why Dont Footballers Celebrate Against Their Former Club

Why Don’t Footballers Celebrate Against Their Former Club? (Explained)

Last updated on July 29th, 2022

Goals are usually the ecstasy of any game as they determine the outcome of the match. Usually, the goalscorers are engulfed in euphoria with their teammates and fans after a goal.

In these moments, emotions run wild, and all sorts of celebrations follow. Some players may even take off their shirts, which may result in a yellow card!

However, some players do not celebrate after scoring against their former clubs.

Is there a reason why players do not celebrate against their former clubs?

Here is what you need to know:

Why do football players not celebrate against their former club?

Most football players do not celebrate against their former club mainly as a form of respect and not wanting to provoke the fans. This usually occurs when the football player had a longstanding history with his previous club, and he had a good rapport with the fans.

Transfers are one of the most common occurrences in football. During transfer windows, veterans and newbies alike switch clubs for another. 

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These players will get to play against their former clubs in many cases. As expected, the players will give their best to win the game for their new club. 

The euphoria may be overwhelming if they score goals in such encounters. Still, these players keep their calm and do not celebrate.

However, this is more of an ‘unspoken‘ rule, rather than one that is written in the Laws of the Game.

There are two major reasons why players do not celebrate against their clubs:

#1 Out of respect 

In many cases, a player that used to be important for his former side will be hesitant to celebrate against them.

The player may have performed well at his previous club, which led him to be transferred to another club.

Due to this rapport he has with the fans and his teammates, he will not celebrate against his former club out of respect.

#2 Not wanting to provoke the fans

Away games with fans are always challenging for the opposition due to the vibrant yet hostile atmosphere. In these situations, former players will be careful not to celebrate in front of the fans.

If he does celebrate a goal in front of his former fans, it may lead to an uproar by the fans, accompanied by lots of boos.

The fans are an essential aspect of football, and disrespecting a formerly amicable fanbase is a terrible idea. Thus, players keep calm and do not celebrate.

Examples of players not celebrating against their former club

Several players have made sure to not celebrate scoring against their former teammates and fans. Here are 2 examples:

#1 Alvaro Morata 

The Spanish striker has played for many great clubs in his career. These include:

  • Real Madrid
  • Juventus
  • Chelsea
  • Atletico Madrid

Morata has had a delightful career and still shines bright for his current team, Juventus. Originally a Real Madrid graduate, Morata went back and forth between Turin’s Old Lady and the Los Blancos for a while.

In the fateful 2014/15 Champions League Semi-Final clash, the two clubs met. Morata scored in both the home and away legs to help Juventus skip over Real Madrid to the final in Berlin. 

However, he did not celebrate on both occasions despite the euphoric atmosphere

After scoring a crucial goal, Morata keeps calm amidst his ecstatic teammates. He does not celebrate with respect to the fans of Santiago Bernabeau.

#2 Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese legend is widely recognized as one of the greatest footballers ever after winning five Ballon d’Or awards amongst other records and accolades. 

You can view a comparison between the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s The Best awards here.

Since emerging from the Sporting Lisbon youth setup, Ronaldo has played for and achieved great things with the best clubs over the past 19 years. Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Juventus have all played host to the Portuguese’s talents.

Ronaldo has played against his former clubs a couple of times. The most memorable of these encounters came in the 2013 Champions League Quarter Finals against Manchester United. 

In the first leg away at Old Trafford, Ronaldo scored this goal to give his side the 1-2 win.

However, the Portuguese did not celebrate his tremendous contribution as he raised his hands in respect to the Manchester United fans.

During the second leg at home, Ronaldo leapt high to score a fantastic header that eventually won the tie for Real Madrid

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Even though it was in front of home fans, Ronaldo kept his earlier promise and did not celebrate. 

Examples of players celebrating against their former club

Conversely, there are other players who do not follow this ‘unspoken’ rule and still celebrate against their former club.

This usually happens if the player left his former club on a sour note, either due to a poor relationship with the fans, his former teammates or manager.

Here are 2 examples of players who celebrated against their former club:

#1 Emmanuel Adebayor

During his prime years, the Togolese striker played for some of the best clubs in the world. Although his only career trophy was the 2011 Copa del Rey with Real Madrid, Adebayor engraved his name in Premier League history.

His career total of 97 Premier League goals contributed to the successful run of Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur. However, one of these goals is fondly remembered due to its notoriety.

In the 2009/10 season, Adebayor scored for Manchester City in a 4-2 win over his former club, Arsenal. After scoring, he sprinted across the field to celebrate directly in front of the travelling Arsenal fans.

Adebayor later explained that the celebration was due to the racial abuse he suffered during the match. The FA authorities found him guilty of improper conduct and fined him £25,000 afterwards.  

#2 Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan striker has had quite a stellar career, albeit a controversial one. Suarez has played across Europe for several top teams, which include:

  • Ajax
  • Liverpool
  • Barcelona
  • Atletico Madrid

His career total of over 500 goals and 200 assists made him an excellent talisman for both club and country. The most memorable moments of Luis Suarez indeed came with Barcelona, where he played for five years and won many trophies.

In the 2020 transfer window, Suarez was sold to league rivals, Atletico Madrid. Once settled at the Wanda Metropolitano, he helped Atletico clinch the 2020/21 La Liga title

Suarez scored against a struggling Barcelona in the league at the beginning of the next season. In the celebrations that followed, he made a mock phone call gesture, making direct fun of his former manager, Ronald Koeman

This gesture was because Koeman had told him to leave the club by a short phone call.    


As usual, players switch clubs and leave to different teams. When they later face their former clubs, they are expected to give their best for their new teams.

This may also occur when a player is out on loan and plays against his parent club.

If the players score against their former clubs, they may choose not to celebrate out of respect for their former teams and fans. However, the players may still celebrate due to bad blood or disregard.

You can find out why other players celebrate so excessively here.

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