Whether footballers should celebrate goals they score against their former clubs has always seemed like an odd debate that places far too much importance on a relatively insignificant issue, but Northern Ireland striker David Healy is learning that such an act can serve as the basis for karmic retribution even years later.
After leaving Rangers, 33-year-old Healy approached League One side Preston North End about making a return to the club. Healy left Preston in 2004 after pushing for a move to Leeds, where he drew the ire of Preston fans for celebrating his goals scored against his former club. Thought that was eight years ago, some Preston fans still harbor resentment towards Healy, forcing the club to turn him away.
From the Belfast Telegraph:
Deepdale boss Graham Westley is a fan of Healy but he couldn't justify such a controversial move.
"Making a controversial move, on my part, would be the wrong thing to do," the Preston boss said.
"I have spoken to David to let him know that we are not going to proceed with that at this moment in time.
"It is a difficult one, because David has so much proven quality, but my feeling is that we've had a revolution at this club this summer.
"It has been a difficult time and the fans have been through a lot.
"Then we've had a summer of revolution, where they have been brilliant in getting behind the new team.
"There is a body of supporters who have a strong feeling against the move and I think it would be the wrong thing to do at this moment in time."
Making the whole situation worse for Healy is the fact that he's been dropped from the Northern Ireland squad since he isn't playing regularly at the club level right now -- a situation that would be resolved had he not celebrated goals he scored in 2004.
So with this precedent set, it's probably just a matter of time until the sensitivities of fans and the career mindedness of players results in footballers performing some kind of ritualistic sacrifice to supporters upon leaving a club and engaging in self-harm when they score against their old team just to keep from burning any bridges.