Today I’m paying a tribute to a number 9 who’s on his last legs at the age of 38. He’s not got a lot of time left in his career, so it’s time to pay tribute to “Pippo”… but not to the goals he’s scored. That would need a whole different post and a lot more time because wherever he’s played, the goals have followed. From Piacenza to Juventus to AC Milan, he has scored. But this post is about what I believe makes Filippo Inzaghi a truly special player – his celebrations.
Watching him over the years, it’s not hard to see that he’s never been a player with flair that's going to produce an amazing piece of skill or go on a mazy run. He’s just a natural born finisher. A fox in the box. He’s “Super Pippo”. One of the most lethal finishers the game has ever seen. His contribution has sometimes been under-appreciated and frowned upon. Some have said he never did much and that he was greedy – but that’s what makes him great in my eyes. If there was a player you’d bet your house on, to finish a chance, it’d be him. He could stick the ball into the back of the net blind-folded. He probably knew, and knows, the 18-yard box better than he knows the bed he shares with his wife. The penalty box is his territory.
Sir Alex Ferguson once said about Inzaghi that he was “born in an offside position”. Whether or not that was a reference to his tendency to be offside often, or to a sexual position – it's a reminder of how clinical he can be. Just waiting to get onside to take advantage of the perfect moment. A moment to show the entire world that he's the happiest person out there to have scored a goal. Nobody expresses their joy that much when they score. He could score a tap-in on the line, a bicycle kick, a header, a shot, a chip, left-foot, right-foot, a shot could even deflect off him and end up in the back of the net, he could miskick the ball, and still Inzaghi would celebrate madly. You'd think he's scored the winner of a World Cup final if you only saw his celebrations (even if the goal was from 2 yards out and there was an empty net in front of him). Like a kid scoring his first goal ever. He goes absolutely mental. His hands flap around. He runs at full speed, probably faster than at any time during the whole game! He opens his mouth widely and screams of joy. It’s what scoring a goal would and should feel like for every player! Forget the coordinated celebrations we see in Football today; those are lame. Seeing Inzaghi going wild is what it should be all about; and I’d bet if any of us Football fans scored a goal for our team, we’d probably go just as crazy as he does.
I can’t help but smile or laugh whenever I see him celebrate. Just as I do whenever he gets caught offside or is adjudged to have fouled an opponent, because he literally frowns. He puts on a sad grimace on his face and looks like he’s about to cry. His expressions made him special and unique. There should be more players celebrating like that when they score and more players showing similar passion in the game nowadays. Sadly there aren’t too many out there.
It doesn't matter if he was never the most gifted player on the ball. His goals made up for it. His celebrations, almost, even more so! He shows he cares about the game, about the clubs he has represented and especially about his goals. His passion has always been clear for all to see and it really feels like watching a kid score a goal whenever Pippo finds the back of the net. I can only imagine how he will react when he realizes he’s scored his last goal. The clock is ticking on his professional career and that moment will come soon. But until then, we just have to take advantage of the fact that he’s still around, fit again and could still possibly give us one of his magical celebrations sometime soon.
(click here to see some his goals and legendary celebrations)