From superhero masks to acrobatic flips, there’s nobody quite like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when it comes to goal celebrations.
And with 15 goals in just 12 Bundesliga games this season, the Borussia Dortmund star is having plenty of opportunities to celebrate in style.
In a sport that punishes players for ripping off their shirts after scoring, Aubameyang has almost become as famous for his innovative celebrations as he has for his goals.
But what does he want to be remembered for once he hangs up his boots: goals or guises?
“I hope they will say the craziest football player ever,” Aubameyang says with a wide grin and infectious laugh. “Maybe, why not? And the fastest player!”
Speed is another of Aubameyang’s attributes. In 2013, he clocked 3.7 seconds in a 30-meter training run — eight hundredths of a second faster than Usain Bolt managed over the same distance during his 100m world record sprint in Berlin seven years ago.
Aubameyang’s personality off the pitch is equally as colorful as the child-like joy he exudes when playing football on it.
In November, he drew comparisons to Inspector Morse for the hat and jacket he wore when watching his Dortmund teammates from the stands.
“I’m like this. When I feel something, I want to do something, I do it — I just do it. So I’m like this also in my life, if I want to wear some crazy clothes, I put it on.
“That’s my meaning and I’m also like this on the pitch. If I want to do something like the Batman mask, I just do it. I was like this all the time, I think nobody can change me.”
Real Madrid rumors
Aubameyang’s performances in his three years at Dortmund have drawn longing gazes from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Along with being named last season’s Bundesliga Player of the Year, the Gabon international also became his country’s first ever African Player of the Year in 2015.
In February, he told reporters he had promised his dying grandfather he would one day play for Real and rumors of a transfer to the Spanish giant have been ongoing ever since.
His suspension from last month’s Champions League clash against Sporting — for “internal reasons,” according to coach Thomas Tuchel — only served to stoke the fire.
However, Aubameyang, who has a contract with Dortmund until 2020, insists he is going nowhere.
“I’m really happy to be here now,” he tells CNN’s Alex Thomas with conviction during their interview in late November. “It’s already been three years since I came here and of course I’m enjoying every moment because we have great fans.
“It’s a great atmosphere when you play inside this stadium,” he adds, referring to Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. “And last year we did very well, we had a very good season.
“I really am happy to be here and I hope to stay more time for sure.”
In his time at Dortmund, Aubameyang has seen star names such as Mario Goetze, Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski and Henrikh Mkhitaryan leave for pastures new.
But leaving Dortmund is never easy — Hummels described his Bayern transfer as “the most difficult” decision of his life, while Goetze returned to the club three years later after admitting, with hindsight, he would have made a “different decision.”
That affinity each player has with the club is largely down to the fans that make Dortmund the best supported team in Europe.
More than 81,000 fans pass through the gates every match day and the Westfalendstadion boasts its fearsome “Yellow Wall” of supporters, who make up Europe’s largest free-standing terrace.
“Yeah, it’s … crazy,” Aubameyang says after a pause, as if imagining standing in the stadium. “It’s amazing, you know, you just look up and you say, ‘wow, that’s amazing.’
“It’s 25,000 people only on one side, so of course you enjoy it. Every time when you go on the pitch it’s just crazy.
“They know when we need some energy; they have a button so it’s perfect. But you feel it, you feel it of course.”