It has been one of those World Cups – where the matches threaten to explode into brilliance but ultimately leave you wanting more.
Last night, Zidane and the World Cup final epitomised that feeling, with the master dazzling but ultimately unsuccessful and the match, which had threatened to be played fast and furious, ending into yet another cagey battle between two excellent teams.
Make no mistake about it though – this was football of the highest order.
But this is about Zidane and Materazzi, and the (already) infamous headbutt that will be remembered as the final page in Zidane’s glittering career (if he really has retired now).
Zidane – Materazzi “Headbutt” Incident
Here’s the story – what little we know of it:
Several minutes before the actual incident, Buffon was seen having gentle words with Zidane and patting his shoulder as if to calm him down. Whether it was a resolution to a previous disagreement or related to the Materazzi incident we don’t know, but what was obvious then was that Zidane was on edge with something the Italians had done and Buffon, his Juventus teammate from the time Zidane was there 5 years ago, was trying to put the fires out.
Then, a few minutes later, as Zidane and Materazzi jostled for a cross in the penalty area, Materazzi was clearly holding on to Zidane from behind and while that annoyed Zidane, his reaction was still controlled. Words were exchanged – banter between opponents and nothing more, it seemed. Zidane jogged past Materazzi towards the half-way line (as the cross had never come and the ball had been cleared) and Materazzi continued speaking.
Then came the fatal moment – Zidane spun around, walked a few steps towards Materazzi and and headbutted him in the chest with full force. You have to see the replays to believe it – Zidane’s strength is such that Materrazi, who is no lightweight himself, went down like a sack. I doubt that he milked it, but only because Zidane is such a strong guy and because the move looked like a flash of rage.
Few people saw it as almost everyone was following the action on the ball. Buffon was there, and so was Cannavaro (I think), who called the ref to the incident. As even the linesman hadn’t seen what had happened, there seemed to be no way to confirm what Buffon, Gattuso and Materazzi were saying. The fourth official then looked at video replays of the incident and after seeing the headbutt in full flow, informed the ref who had no hesitation in giving Zidane a straight red card.
The rest you already know – Zidane storming off, into the dressing room from where he was sure never to return, whether France won or lost (he didn’t come out to receive his medal either). The French crowd, who had not seen the replays, booed and whistled the Italians. In the end, Italy kept their nerve in the penalty shootout and France, without Vieira, Henry or Zidane to take penalties, put up a brave fight but Trezeguet’s miss (and Grosso’s converted penalty) meant that the Azzuri were crowned the World Champions.
And now the goodies.
You can watch the video below, and download it as well using the link below the vid (it’s around 755K). The downloaded file will have a .flv extension and you’ll need an FLV player to watch it – I recommend using VLC Media Player (something that you should be using for your video needs anyways)
Download the animated gif of the incident above – god knows why you’d want it, but it’s a powerful headbutt…
Zidane’s final match started off really well, the early goal followed with the French dictating the match right through the second half and into the first half of extra time
What the hell did he say? Imagine Zidane in a street fight – the man would snap a neck in seconds…
Say it ain’t so…video evidence is used to determine that Zidane really is at fault and he’s off.