Zinédine Zidane’s final game in his illustrious trophy-laden career ended in a rush of blood to the head, with the French maestro headbutting Italian centre-back Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final between Les Bleus and the Azzurri. France were putting immense pressure on the Italians during extra-time but, at the 110th minute, Materazzi collapsed after Zidane had hit him with his head. The referee sent the Ballon d’Or winner off after reviewing the play on the Berlin stadium’s giant screens, despite VAR not being introduced yet. France eventually lost on penalties, with David Trezeguet smashing Gianluigi’s Buffon crossbar for the sole miss of the shoot-out.
Speaking to Italian Football TV, Materazzi revealed the content of the exchange that led Zidane to lose the plot. “You know the NBA? Trashtalking? My trashtalking was nothing. He offered me his shirt [at the end of the game]. I said ‘no, I’d prefer your sister'”. Materazzi’s contribution to Italy’s fourth World Cup win cannot be understated. He cancelled out Zidane’s famous panenka opener by heading home from a corner, and then produced a masterful defensive display alongside eventual Ballon d’Or winner Fabio Cannavaro and scored his penalty during the shoot-out.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval