He didn’t know if it was going to be the shot that clinched the US Open when he knocked it in. But, when Justin Rose holed his final putt for par on the treacherous 18th hole at Merion, his first instinct was to look up to the sky, kiss his finger and point to the heavens in memory of his late father, Ken, who died in September 2001.
Ken Rose had coached and nurtured his son through an incredible near-win as an amateur at The Open in 1998 to missing a moral-sapping 21 successive cuts having turned professional. When Rose Jr finally made it to the pinnacle of his sport in Philadelphia on Sunday, his first thought – on father’s day – was for his old man. It was a moving moment.
Rose isn’t the only one pointing to the skies at a moment of triumph. It’s become the go-to way for sports people to silently pay tribute to a loved one.
Perhaps the most famous example came in the 2008 Champions League semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea. With the game poised at 1-1 in extra-time, Sami Hyypiä bundled over Michael Ballack on the edge of the Liverpool area. A still-grieving Frank Lampard, whose mother had passed away just six days earlier, was handed the ball to take the crucial penalty.
Almost rattling with emotion on his run-up, Lampard buried it. After being buried by his teammates, Lampard stood up kissed his hands and put both hands to the sky, before pointing towards his father, Frank Senior, in the stands. It would have taken a hard heart not to have had a minor sniffle.
Lionel Messi is also a proponent. He told Spanish sports paper Marca that his post-goal heaven-points are for his late grandmother, who “continues to help” him with his game. With 186 club goals in the last three seasons, Grandma Messi must be very, very good at helping him.
Hopefully for British tennis fans, the point-to-the-heavens we’ll see the most of this summer will come from the sweaty wrists of Andy Murray on his way to Wimbledon glory. Murray has used it as his trademark celebration – notably during his run to the Wimbledon and Olympic finals in 2012. When asked why he did it by New York Times readers during his run to US Open victory in September he revealed that he wanted to keep it as close to his chest as a sweaty practice T-shirt: “I got asked about it pretty much every single match, and then I just kept it to myself. So I’ll keep it secret.”
Sure, it may lack the ballsiness of a printed T-shirt (sorry, Mario) or a coordinated dance routine, but for actually, properly, meaningful celebrations, the point-to-the-sky tops the lot.Reuse content