A Pancake Day worth celebrating as we crown the Premier League’s best flipper

To mark Shrove Tuesday, Planet Sport looks at five players whose impressive line in acrobatic goal celebrations will take some topping.

February's over and spring is just around the corner. But it's not just March 1 (white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit) it's also Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as most people call it.

And before we start stuffing our faces with great big dollops of batter, lashings of chocolate sauce and maybe some fruit to keep it healthy, Planet Sport counts down the top-flight's most acrobatic flippers. Hold on to your frying pans…

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang flip Jan21

As befits a player who has scored more than 200 top-flight goals for among others, Arsenal, Saint-Etienne and Borussia Dortmund, Aubameyang had a number of iconic celebrations, including the Spider-man, the Black Panther and, most famously, his standing front-flip.

"I think it's because I feel so free when I do the front flip," he explained. "I feel really, really free, that's my moment,"

However, for Arsenal legend Ian Wright it was anything but his moment.

In conversation with Aubameyang he outlined his concerns - something that is a bit of a theme with acrobatic celebrations.

Wright said: "I'm always worried about that one (the flip). I like the panther man, but every time you stop, anyone who I see do this one (the flip) that worries me man."

As if to put Wright's mind at rest, Aubameyang then goes on to explain how he perfected the move.

"I practiced at home first on the sofa! On my bed!"

Obviously not a house with a no climbing on the furniture rule, then.


Michael Carrick Nani Manchester United flip Oct10

Nani's acrobatics were about as convincing as he was.

There was definitely promise and the moves were all there but you weren't quite sure if they were in the right order or he would be able to pull it off again.

It was the same with his football, with the Portuguese racking up 230 appearances for Manchester United without ever truly establishing himself.

He celebrated 41 goals while at Old Trafford, pulling out some of the elaborate flips he learnt while training in the martial art of capoeira as a kid. However, despite stories to the contrary at the time, he was never warned about his acrobatics by Sir Alex Ferguson.

"No. That was something in pre-season because I had a pain in my foot," Nani explained to the UTD Podcast.

Nani Manchester United flip Feb11

"I scored my first goal in pre-season and celebrated with the backflip.

"'In the next game, I scored but I didn't do the backflip. So people started saying, 'Ferguson said Nani cannot do that any more'. But it wasn't true.

"As soon as we came back to the Premier League and my first goal (against Tottenham) I was so excited, I tried to do something different.

"Normally I do just one backflip, and that day I tried to do something more difficult."

But for all the backflips and high degrees of difficulty, Nani has still seen his celebration overshadowed by a bloke who just jumps and does a little half turn with his arms outstretched.

Patson Daka

Leicester City's summer signing from Red Bull Salzburg rolled out his backflip celebration after adding a record-breaking fourth against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League in October.

It made another appearance in the Premier League when Daka scored the second in a 4-0 win over Newcastle and the Foxes forward said the celebration was just an off-the-cuff thing.

"It's since I was a kid," Daka told LCFC TV. "I was doing it for fun. I was just doing it with my friends. Most of the time, I get lost in the moment when I'm celebrating.

"Whatever comes to my mind is what I end up doing. It's not like I planned to do this… I just find myself doing it!"

Now's probably a good time to talk about a player who didn't play in the Premier League but is synonymous with an iconic celebration and perhaps shouldn't be.

Renowned for his front-flip celebration, Miroslav Klose wasn't particularly good at it. In fact, he failed to land it more often than not. And if you don't believe me, try and find some footage of him pulling it off. And I mean landing it without falling over, using his hands to stop himself fall over or just pretending he was trying to do something else entirely. You'll be a while.

Obefemi Martins

Obefemi Martins flip Newcastle Apr08

Obefemi Martins retired in 2021 after a globetrotting career which saw him turn out for Inter Milan, Newcastle United, Seattle Sounders, Shanghai Shenhua among others, scoring 183 goals in 488 appearances.

Thirty-one of those goals came in the top flight which allowed Premier League crowds to get a glimpse of his impressive acrobatics, which would see him throw in between one and seven flips depending on the magnitude of the goal.

And again it was something that followed him through from childhood, with Martins literally launching his celebration during games of street football aged 12.

"Somebody said to me, 'whenever you always score goals, you always score goals on this pitch, why don't you try to do your flip and see how it goes'," Martins explained. "And I said really, nah, I don't think I can do it, I will be too tired to do it.

"'No, you can be too tired to do it, people will enjoy it.'

"I scored, I did it, people started yelling and happy and I was surprised."

Lomano LuaLua

Lomana LuaLua Portsmouth flip Apr06

LuaLua was known for his trademark somersault celebration but promised he would not do it until Portsmouth were safe from relegation in 2005/06, having been warned about the risk of injury.

The forward's headed equaliser against Arsenal did not quite lift Pompey out of the relegation zone - they remained in the bottom three on goal difference - but temptation greeted LuaLua like a naughty friend, and he promptly suffered an injury.

"I felt a twinge in my ankle when I landed after the header and probably should not have done the flip," he said. "But I was carried away with the emotion of scoring against Arsenal."

His manager Harry Redknapp, caught up in the emotion of gaining a vital point, was his usual chirpy self after the match: "He still did his triple somersault with pike without realising he'd hurt himself. He's a one-off."

Two matches later and with LuaLua having been forced to sit out crucial games against Middlesbrough and Charlton, Redknapp was not quite so chipper, saying: "It has only been a problem since he celebrated with that silly somersault."

LuaLua didn't play again that season, though Pompey did survive.

He suffered a recurrence of the injury the following pre-season and after struggling to regain his place in the side, was sold to Olympiacos in 2007.

It was not to be the last English football saw of the LuaLua acrobatics, however.

Lomano's younger brother Kazenga LuaLua also had an impressive line in backflips.

And the Brighton & Hove Albion winger Kazenga LuaLua said that despite warnings not to, he, like his brother, just couldn't help himself.

"I know the staff don't like it when I do a backflip," DR Congo-born LuaLua told BBC Sussex.

"But I don't think anyone can stop me - it is how I celebrate.

"It is something in the family blood - it is always going to happen."

Thankfully for the health and safety police, a third member of the family, cousin Yannick Bolasie, is more interested in tricks and flicks than flips.

READ MORE: Which Premier League managers would get in their own teams and who wouldn’t even make the bench?

Latest news