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Soccer-Dancing Colombia set bar for wild World Cup celebrations

Reuters

(Changes dateline, no change to story text)

By Andrew Cawthorne

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, June 25 (Reuters) - Forgotten for a moment who won the 1990 World Cup?

Maybe, but if you are old enough, it's impossible not to remember Roger Milla's hip-shaking celebrations for Cameroon or Salvatore Toto Schillaci's euphorically bulging eyes as he wheeled away from goal-after-goal for Italy.

Tournaments down the years have often been as memorable for their clever and crazy celebrations as the actual trophy winners.

This time, Colombia have laid early claim to the abiding image from Brazil with nifty tropical dances after their goals in a joyful return to the World Cup following a 16-year absence.

Left back Pablo Armero, who has a history of dancing for club and country, led the way after scoring against Greece in the opening game in the fifth minute.

The rhythmic 27-year-old raced to his bench, crossed himself, called team mates around, and then led a clearly rehearsed but nonetheless fabulous dance of salsa steps and raised arms that quickly went viral back home.

The dances have just kept on coming as Colombia have stormed through to the last 16 for the first time since 1990.

"No-one expected much from Colombia at this World Cup. Now we've shown we can score great goals and dance better than anyone else!" said fan Andres Menendez, copying the dance with friends in the street after seeing Colombia's opening 3-0 win over Greece in Belo Horizonte.

GHANA SHAKE IT, ENGLAND BREAK IT

Ghana are running Colombia a close second with their moves, striker Asamoah Gyan leading the team in a well-coordinated leg-cocking 'chicken' dance after scoring against Germany.

Algeria, the only Arab nation at the World Cup, wore their Muslim faith proudly by kneeling in prayer to celebrate a goal against Belgium that was their first at the finals since 1986.

After those three, most teams have been more conventional.

The English went for a traditional group pile-on after a Daniel Sturridge goal against Italy. But they sprung a surprise - albeit a nasty unintended one - by managing to dislocate the ankle of their physiotherapist pinned under the bodies.

Some of the German players have been spotted on local TV on the beach practising with a local dance teacher but are perhaps waiting for the later stages to break it out on the pitch.

There was no Germanic restraint, though, from Miroslav Klose, who dusted off his old somersault celebration to mark his goal against Ghana. "I don't know how long it's been!" he said.

In other individual acts, Costa Rica's Joel Campbell stuffed a ball up his shirt and sucked a thumb after a goal versus Uruguay in honour of what fans assume is impending fatherhood.

'PISTOLERO' SUAREZ

Australia's Tim Cahill and Uruguay's Luis Suarez have reprised their well-known routines - punching the corner-flag like a boxer, and quick-firing a pistol respectively.

The controversial Uruguayan 'pistolero' also showed a tender side after eliminating England with two goals, simply crying, although he will be remembered more for biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder which has prompted a FIFA investigation.

In other highlights, Mexico's charismatic coach Miguel Herrera has been leaping and yelling almost as manically as then Argentina coach Diego Maradona did on the touchline in 2010. Herrera's antics have become something of an online phenomenon.

Others, though, have been largely predictable - crossing themselves, looking to the skies, high-fiving or blowing kisses to the camera.

Iran's celebrations after a 0-0 draw with Nigeria were nothing visually special except for the extraordinary contrast between the jeers of bored Brazilian spectators and the ecstasy of the Asians at their first clean sheet since the 1978 finals.

No-one has yet been as downright cheeky as Nigeria's Finidi George who, after a beautiful chipped goal in 1994, got down on all fours to walk like a dog before cocking his leg.

"They are the great moments, aren't they? Sheer, unadulterated human joy and craziness," said England fan John Goodwin, 60, who is in Brazil for his sixth World Cup.

"Of course, if it's your player, it's brilliant. If it's an opponent, it's just stupid and annoying!" (Additional reporting by Andrew Downie in Sao Paulo, Javier Leira in Santiago, Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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