James Maddison says he was trying to keep things light-hearted as he celebrated his goal in Leicester’s 2-0 win against Southampton.
After opening the scoring in the first half of the Premier League encounter, the midfielder gestured to his team-mates to stay away from him and mimed handshakes with them.
Football players have been criticised for sharing hugs and handshakes in celebrations despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Maddison says he wanted to obey social-distancing rules after his goal but felt the need to poke fun at the situation.
“If little things like that are what we need to keep football going then so be it. We have been told to stop gatherings of people and I tried to make it light-hearted,” he said to BT Sport.
“Footballers, we get a lot of stick and it’s nice to put a lighter note on it. I don’t think you will find one person in the country who wants football to stop.
“I hope Gareth Southgate had his mask on – it’s nice to have him here. I want more international football, I’ve had a taste.
“It was a good Premier League game, tightly-contested. The 9-0 always gets mentioned but we don’t like it, we need to forget about it. We took three points off each other last season, they beat us here.
“It’s nice to be second in the table but last year we petered off in the new year so the next few months will be tough.”
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers praised Maddison for his creativity and hopes it lifted the mood despite the difficulty posed by coronavirus.
“[We’re] trying to treat it as a positive by saying we can be creative. Instead of seeing it as a negative saying you can’t celebrate – you can, just in a different way,” he said.
“Football brings such great joy to people. It’s such a really, really hard time – off the back of Christmas. January is always a tough month for people. If they can get some sort of relief from a good competitive game and seeing players celebrating in the right way that’s important.”
“A great win for us. The first 25 minutes I thought we were socially distancing, we didn’t get within two metres of them,” he said.
“We were too passive, not aggressive enough which wasn’t like us. But then we started to press the game better and it allowed us to sustain attacks more.
“Second half we were much better and should have scored more than two goals. At the same time we defended well.”