Our squad for the 2000/01 promotion campaign was the envy of every club outside the top flight, but one of the stand-out performers that season was a home-grown youngster from Battersea. Sean Davis had proven himself to be a consistent box-to-box midfielder under Jean Tigana, and so it was apt he scored two of the most important goals that year. His jig following the winner at Ewood Park perfectly encapsulated the party spirit that the victory brought, before he was overcome with excitement when he grabbed the goal against Sheffield Wednesday five days later that secured the title. The yellow card he received for ripping his shirt off was undoubtedly the favourite booking of his career.
The powerful striker from Argentina made history against Charlton back in October 2002 - not because he scored the winning goal, but because he became the first man in Premiership history to celebrate using a mask. Sava may not have been as prolific as he would have liked during his stint in South-West London, but he was a popular player with the Fulham Faithful for his work rate, hold-up play, and his affection for the Mask of Zorro. Addicks fans sought revenge on Sava for his antics when we played them in the FA Cup later in the season, as they brought 4,000 red Zorro masks to Loftus Road to pop on should they score. Sadly for the opposition, Steed Malbranque’s hat-trick in a 3-0 win saw them go unused.
With just three minutes left on the clock, Fulham were trailing to Alan Smith’s first half effort at Craven Cottage when Papa Bouba Diop unleashed a ferocious strike to earn us a point. He’d scored a brilliant volley against Chelsea a month earlier to open his account for the Whites, but his effort against United was even better – and he knew it. Having bent his effort beyond Roy Carroll at the Hammersmith End, the Senegal international sprinted to the corner flag in front of the Cottage – beaming all the way – before performing a celebratory dance that was halted only by the presence of Collins John leaping onto his back.
Ahead of the final round of matches of 2006, it was a fact that someone was about to score the 15,000th goal in the Premier League – and of all the favourites to grab it, Moritz Volz probably wasn’t too high up on the list. But having started the match in central midfield, Volzy popped up just past the quarter hour mark at Stamford Bridge to open the scoring – etching his name into the history books at the same time. Any strike against our local rivals is worth its weight in gold and the enigmatic German celebrated accordingly by gleefully running back down the pitch, with his teammates giving chase. Volz was awarded £15,000 prize money for the goal, which he split three ways between Fulham’s Community Sports Trust, Kick4Life and The Prince's Trust.
Probably one of the most celebrated moments in Fulham’s history came after the final whistle in this game, but the players didn’t hold back when the goal went in either. After heading beyond Portsmouth ‘keeper Jamie Ashdown, Danny Murphy wheeled away towards the travelling Fulham supporters, before being rugby tackled by an ecstatic Brian McBride. The two were soon joined in a heap by Erik Nevland and Diomansy Kamara – who kissed his fist and looked to the heavens – with Simon Davies and Jimmy Bullard not far behind. Murphy was then able to escape from the bundle to enjoy the moment with the fans in close proximity, and about quarter of an hour later the real celebrations began to get underway when the referee blew for full-time.
A real larger-than-life character during his time at the Cottage, John Pantsil won an army of followers at the Club in no small part due to his quirky ways on the pitch. Before every match, the right-back would stand with his head bowed in prayer and arms outstretched above him – it was a calm and collected stance. That subdued character would be a distant memory though should Fulham secure a positive result in the subsequent game, with Pantsil jogging round the edge of the Craven Cottage pitch with the broadest of smiles on his face and arms extended in celebration. In fact, he was so delighted at our UEFA Europa League Semi-Final win over Hamburg that he did two laps of honour around the turf.
There are not a plethora of reasons to smile when you’re out in sub-zero temperatures, but Zoltan Gera gave the hardy souls who had travelled to Switzerland on that freezing December night plenty of reason to be cheery, for his goal would send Fulham through to the knockout stages of the Europa League. After nestling his shot into the far corner of the net, Zolly leapt into the arms of Stephen Kelly who had provided a neat assist for the strike. Both had a look of pure euphoria on their face as they ran off in celebration – imagine how big the grins would have been if they’d known we’d end up staying in the competition until its conclusion.
A second entry from Gera and arguably the easiest choice when it came to selecting our favourite Fulham celebrations. On what was a hugely dramatic night at Craven Cottage, just one look at the Hungarian after he’d made it 2-1 would tell you what that match meant to the players. After scoring, he ran towards the corner flag between Hammersmith and Riverside, looking at the sky with his arms straight upwards, before sinking to his knees, almost in disbelief at what he’d just done. Arms still bolt upright, he was joined promptly as Dickson Etuhu skidded in towards him, with Damien Duff next to join the huddle. That was nothing compared to the hullaballoo that was taking place in the stands though, with the fans enjoying their reward for continuing to believe.
If ever there was a concern that foreign players don’t understand the importance of derby matches, then Pavel Pogrebnyak went some way to dispelling that theory following his goal at Loftus Road. Having rounded Paddy Kenny and slotted into the back of the net from a tight angle, Pogrebnyak found himself just feet away from the celebratory Fulham fans, so thought he’d share in their joy. The big Russian cheered before falling into an embrace among the masses – an act which promptly earned him a yellow card. “I didn’t know you can’t give hugs to fans in England,” Pogrebnyak was later quoted as saying. “The stands were really close.”
Goalscoring has hardly been Big Phil’s forte during his career, and so it’s unsurprising that he burst with pride when he grabbed an 89th minute winner against Wigan last year. After heading in John Arne Riise’s free-kick, Senderos wheeled away before a skid onto his knees was complemented by a passionate fist-pump. As a popular member of the squad, Senderos’ teammates clearly knew what his first Fulham goal meant to the defender and so almost every man on the pitch in a white shirt made their way over to create a mass bundle. Eventually he was allowed up to make his way back to the defence, but not before blowing a kiss to the crowd who were singing on repeat “he scores when he wants...”