From Pulisic To Iniesta: The 10 Most Iconic Goal Celebration Shirt Messages (And What They Meant)

Players like Mario Balotelli, Christian Pulisic and Andrés Iniesta have used T-shirt messages to make a statement after scoring a goal.

For as long as soccer players have had toned, athletic bodies hiding under their shirts, they’ve loved to take off their jerseys to celebrate scoring a goal. But when you really want to make a statement, you need something more than rock-hard abs under your shirt — you need one of these iconic goal celebration shirt messages.

As much as we love the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Brandi Chastain stripping in jubilation, goal celebrations with messages on shirts worn underneath a jersey take things to a whole new level. This isn’t just some spur-of-the-moment reaction; this is a calculated statement meant to live long in the memories of those who witness such legendary moments.

Goal celebration shirt messages are nothing new, but with Christian Pulisic’s incredible shithousing against Mexico on Friday, we thought we’d look back at the 10 best T-shirt messages revealed during goal celebrations. 

Here are the 10 best goal celebration shirt messages (and what they meant), in no particular order, plus a few select ones as seen on our Instagram page, an account you should definitely follow.

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10 Best Goal Celebration Shirt Messages

Christian Pulisic — Man In The Mirror (2021)

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Coming off the bench against archrival Mexico, it took a lot of confidence to do what Christian Pulisic did on Nov. 12, 2021. Pulisic knew he wouldn’t be starting but still had the audacity to wear a Mexico-taunting T-shirt — and it paid off when he scored just minutes after coming on the pitch in the second half. 

Pulisic scored the first goal in the USMNT’s 2-0 win over Mexico in World Cup qualifying. He then revealed a T-shirt that will live long in the lore of the USA-Mexico rivalry. The shirt read “MAN IN THE MIRROR” — a reference to comments made by El Tri goalkeeper Memo Ochoa days before the match. Ochoa said “Mexico has been that mirror that the United States wants to see itself.” Thanks to Pulisic’s goal, the U.S. beat Mexico in all three of their meetings in 2021.

Andrés Iniesta — Siempre Con Nosotros (2010)

Goal Celebration Shirt Messages

Andrés Iniesta, 2010 World Cup Final. Photo: Getty Images

Some T-shirt celebrations taunt, others inspire. 

In the 2010 World Cup Final, Andrés Iniesta capped Spain’s first-ever World Cup title with the winner in extra time against the Netherlands. Despite everything being played for in that moment, Iniesta still had the foresight to wear a shirt in memory of former teammate Dani Jarque, who died of a heart attack at the age of 26. The shirt read “DANI JARQUE: SIEMPRE CON NOSOTROS” which translates to “Dani Jarque: always with us.”

It was one of the most beautiful, inspirational moments in World Cup history — unless you’re a Netherlands fan.

Thierry Henry — Bang Goes The 0-0 Draw (2000)

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Arsenal’s famed Frenchman had a habit of wearing goal-celebration T-shirts, the most famous of which came in 2000. After the Gunners had gone three years without scoring against Liverpool, Henry scored the second in a 2-0 win over the Reds at Highbury, revealing his Nike-branded shirt to celebrate ending the clean sheet. Though it was actually teammate Lauren who broke the deadlock, Henry didn’t let the opportunity pass him by with a shirt that read: “Bang goes the 0-0 draw.”

Another Henry goal celebration shirt message came in 2001 when he scored against Manchester United and revealed a shirt reading “FOR THE WEST INDIES” in honor of his father, who was born in Concacaf’s own Guadeloupe. 

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Francesco Totti — I Have Purged You Again (1999)

Like Henry, Francesco Totti is a serial T-shirt celebrator. 

In 2012, after going 7.5 months without a goal, he revealed a shirt saying “sorry for the delay” when he finally got back on the score sheet. His next goal drought was just 44 minutes.

But that doesn’t hold a candle to his shithousing against rival Lazio in 1999. Then a 23-year-old, Totti scored a late equalizer in the first meeting against Lazio. In the second meeting, he capped a 3-1 win with a late strike before revealing a shirt that said “VI HO PURGATO ANCORA” — “I have purged you again.”

Robbie Fowler — Dockers (1997)

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In 1997, Liverpool icon Robbie Fowler turned the Calvin Klein logo into a goal celebration shirt message bringing attention to 500 dock workers who were striking. 

It was a huge moment to make the statement in support of the workers, as it came in the Cup Winners’ Cup. However, it cost him 2,000 Swiss francs for making a political message. 

It should be noted, Steve McManaman and Stig Inge Bjornebye also showed public support for the dock workers. 

Paul Tait — Shit On The Villa (1995)

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Our most NSFW entry on the list, we had to include Paul Tait’s literal shit-talking during the 1995 Football League Trophy final. 

After scoring the only goal in Birmingham City’s 1-0 win, Tait stripped to reveal a shirt reading “Shit on the Villa,” a reference to Birmingham’s rival Aston Villa. 

The best part? Villa wasn’t even playing that day; the goal was scored against Carlisle United. Now that’s some good taunting.

James Maddison — RIP Sophie (2019)

Say what you will about his play on the pitch, off the pitch James Maddison is a darling. 

Early in his career, Maddison befriended a 5-year-old battling bone cancer, a battle she sadly lost. The next time Maddison scored, he revealed a tender message to Sophie, the young girl. 

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A lovely moment for Maddison and Sophie’s family. 

Dimitar Berbatov — Keep Calm And Pass Me The Ball (2012)

Back in 2012, Dimitar Berbatov shit-talked not just his opponents but his entire team, basically implying he was the only one who could save Fulham. To his credit, Berbatov scored 15 goals in the EPL that season, three times what any other teammate tallied that year. 

Ian Wright — Just Done It (1997)

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This one had a chance to be a hilarious fail, but it all worked out in the end for legendary Arsenal striker Ian Wright. As Wright closed in on Arsenal’s all-time scoring record, he donned a shirt for the occasion. Except he pulled it out too soon, revealing the message a goal early. 

Wright revealed a shirt saying “179 — Just Done It” with a large Nike swoosh. Except he showed it off when he tied Cliff Bastin’s record of 178, not when he had struck 179. Luckily for him, Wright scored a hat trick that day and eventually hit 179 before finishing his career with 185 Arsenal goals, a record that stood until Henry passed him years later. 

Mario Balotelli — Why Always Me (2011)

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We finish with one of the most iconic goal celebration shirt messages of all time from Mario Balotelli. 

Amidst some mostly minor off-field controversy, Balotelli proved his worth by scoring in an unforgettable 6-1 win over rival Manchester United. After his goal, Balotelli lifted his shirt over his head to reveal a janky “WHY ALWAYS ME?” message on his undershirt. 

A footballer often criticized for his behavior off the pitch hit back at his haters with a goal and an image of a lifetime.

Honorable Mention

Lionel Messi — Maradona Tribute (2020)

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While this one didn’t have a message written on a T-shirt, we felt we had to include this unforgettable moment.

Shortly after the passing of Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi honored his fellow Argentine. In a match that featured a pregame tribute to Maradona, who played at Barcelona from 1982-84, Messi just missed scoring a goal with his hand a la Maradona (though the VAR would have certainly called it back). 

But Messi had another tribute in mind. After scoring the third in a 4-0 win over Osasuna, Messi ripped off his jersey to reveal a No. 10 Maradona jersey from Newell’s Old Boys, where Messi spent his youth career and Maradona played briefly in 1993. 

While it wasn’t a message written on a shirt, it was still a touching tribute.

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