Hearts hero Ryan McGowan has explained the thinking behind his cheeky ‘5-1’ gesture in Australia’s World Cup clash with the Netherlands last week.
The Aussie defender was caught on camera signalling the score from his old club’s 2012 Scottish Cup final victory over Hibs while he tried to help set up a defensive wall against the Dutch. The photo went viral in Edinburgh, prompting delight from Jambos and scorn from some Hibbies.
“Everyone says football is too serious, and how there is no banter in the game anymore,” said McGowan, who now plays in China. “Even now you cannot celebrate a goal without getting booked. The amount of abuse I get, you have to take it back. No way was it meant to wind anyone up. If anything it was meant for the Hearts fans for the support they have shown even now I have left the club.”
McGowan explained that he didn’t go on to the pitch with the intention of ‘doing a 5-1’. “Originally he [Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan] wanted six in the wall,” the defender explained after Australia were eliminated at the group stage. “Obviously with the noise and everything I couldn’t hear, so I was gesturing to him. I already had the five and the one up to signal the six. So I have turned around to look at where they have taken it [the free-kick] and I saw on the big screen that I had [the 5-1] up. It was not something running through my mind all game, thinking ‘I need to get a 5-1 up’.
“But it was the six in the wall. As I stood there I could see myself on screen, and I thought ‘I will just keep my hands there and if they notice it then they do’.”