Goal Kicks To Field Goals: Meet Ex-GK Josh Lambo Who Has Pulled Out A Soccer Celebration In The NFL

​Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo became a hero on Sunday night as a result of his game-winning field goal in overtime against former team Los Angeles Chargers, but channelled his soccer background in a brilliant celebration.

It was Lambo’s 34-yard field goal with just seven seconds of regulation time remaining that sent the 17-17 tied contest into overtime in the first place and he stepped up again in the extra period to kick through the posts from 30 yards and win the game.

It was Jacksonville’s third straight win, moving them on to a 6-3 record and into serious playoff contention with more than half of the 2017 regular season now played.

Lambo had been cut by the Chargers just five days before the season began in September, losing his job to rookie South Korean kicker Younghoe Koo, who was himself cut just four weeks later the season and is still to find another team after a disastrous start to his NFL career.

After six weeks as a free agent, Texas A&M alum Lambo wound up in Jacksonville less than a month ago in mid-October and to get one over on his former employers so soon and in such a decisive manner would have been incredibly sweet revenge.

It showed in his celebration, which had a distinct ‘soccer’ flavour to it, as he wheeled away after striking the successful game-winning kick. Rather than any typical gridiron celebration, Lambo turned and ran to slide on his knees, arms outstretched and pumping.

The knee slide has been a popular Association Football celebration over the years, notably from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 1999 Champions League final, to Emmanuel Adebayor as he infamously ran the length of the field to provocatively celebrate in front of his former Arsenal fans in 2009, to Eden Hazard’s go-to celebration.

Lambo has actually directly come up against Hazard on a soccer pitch – not that he witnessed the Belgian’s trademark knee slide on that occasion – as long before he became a professional kicker in the NFL he was a top American soccer talent.

As a teenager, Lambo was a very promising goalkeeper and was signed to a ‘Generation Adidas’ contract. He then spent the summer of 2005 training at Everton at the age of 15 after a recommendation from former Toffees stopper and fellow American Tim Howard.

In 2007, Lambo was selected by the United States for the Under-17 World Cup in South Korea. He sat out the first two games as back-up, but was drafted in for the third group match against Belgium after the US had conceded seven goals against Tajikistan and Tunisia.

It was in that Belgium game that Lambo encountered a 16-year-old Hazard, who would be promoted to the Lille first-team after the tournament. Christian Benteke was also in that talented Belgium squad, but Lambo kept a clean sheet as the Americans claimed an impressive 2-0 victory to finish second in the final group standings and book their place in the knockout rounds.

Lambo kept his place for the next game against Germany, but an opposition that featured eventual tournament Golden Ball (best player) recipient and future World Cup and three-times Champions League winner Toni Kroos proved too strong as the US lost 2-1.

Lambo remained a soccer player after that, entering the 2008 MLS SuperDraft the following year and signing with Major League Soccer franchise FC Dallas. He also remained active with the United States at junior international level and played a handful games at Under-20 level, though he was ultimately omitted from the squad that went to the Under-20 World Cup in 2009.

The goalkeeper made his debut as a professional soccer player in 2010 during a loan spell with Tampa Bay, playing six times during the USSF Division 2 season.

Lambo was later released by Dallas at the end of 2011 and subsequently had trials with fellow MLS side DC United and even English club Sheffield United. He had offers to play in the newly reformed North American Soccer League (NASL) – considered North America’s second tier – but ultimately chose to quit soccer at the age of 21 instead.

His career in professional sport did not end there, however. Approaching his 22nd birthday, Lambo enrolled in college at Texas A&M in 2012 and joined the American Football team as a kicker. From goal kicks to field goals, he landed the starting job for the ‘Aggies’ in 2013.

Having been drafted 8th overall by MLS seven years earlier, Lambo declared himself for the 2015 NFL draft. He wasn’t taken, but quickly earned an opportunity with the Chargers as undrafted free agent, displacing veteran kicker Nick Novak ahead of the 2015 NFL season.

Two years on, Lambo got the same cutthroat treatment from the Chargers, but it was this former soccer goalkeeper who ended up having the last laugh this Sunday.