Roberts unrepentant over ‘Ayatollah’
Oct 4 2007 by Blair Wood, Western Mail
CHRISTIAN ROBERTS has shrugged off the controversy his “ayatollah” celebration caused at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday and last night insisted he has no regrets over the incident.
Roberts had to have a police escort from the ground after several Swansea fans took exception to the manner in which he celebrated his 70th-minute equaliser.
The ayatollah celebration is synonymous with Cardiff City, the Swans’ bitter rivals. To see the gesture at the Liberty Stadium would irritate the calmest of fans but it left several of the Swans faithful enraged.
Roberts, a former Cardiff trainee, was subjected to taunts from the crowd throughout the game. He naturally took pleasure in his goal and admits he knew the celebration would be controversial.
“It’s a Swansea-Cardiff thing,” he explained. “But, if anything, it brought a good atmosphere to the game.
“It’s about showing your roots and that’s what I did last night. I’m proud to be a Cardiff boy, that’s all.
“The fans had been on at me right from the start. It was a chance to get my own back and that’s what I did.
“They had been giving me stick all night. I don’t have any regrets about doing the ayatollah.”
He may not have any regrets, but Roberts admits his celebrations caused a bit of trouble after full time. He played down the need for a police escort and claimed it was just part and parcel of the game.
“There were a few fans who hung around afterwards but I got home safely and it’s just part of football really.
“Fans think they can say and do what they want at a game but footballers can’t do anything. The celebration was my way of answering their chants.”
The goal got Swindon back into the game but the Swans went on to win 2-1. Roberts’ disappointment with the result was definitely eased by scoring against his arch-rivals.
“Being a Cardiff boy, it was great to score at Swansea,” he said.
“I made it clear how I felt before the game. I’m a Cardiff boy and everyone knows the rivalry between Cardiff and Swansea.
“It was a disappointing result but I had my two minutes of joy getting a goal against Swansea and getting to celebrate it with the ayatollah.”
He did, however, claim his intention wasn’t to cause any offence and even paid tribute to the Swans new surroundings.
“It wasn’t pre-planned, it was just a spur of the moment thing,” he added. “I don’t want to cause any grief and I don’t want to cause problems. It was just a celebration.
“It was actually a game I’d been looking forward to. I haven’t been to the Liberty before and to be fair to them they’ve got a decent set-up there.”
Roberts, who spent three years at Cardiff before moving on to pastures new, wasn’t surprised with the hostile reception he received.
The impressive winger insisted he was used to it, though, and even went so far as to suggest it actually improves his performances.
“I was expecting the stick to be honest but it doesn’t bother me. It just makes me want to play harder to prove people wrong.
“I really don’t mind people getting on my back. I’ve taken stick everywhere I’ve gone.
“It was the same at Millwall last week because of the Cardiff link but it’s something I take in my stride.”