World Cup Moments: Zinedine Zidane Headbutts Marco Materazzi
Lots of things happened at World Cup 2006. There was Germany’s surprise run to the semi-finals, Ronaldo becoming the all time top scorer in World Cup history, Argentina playing some beautiful football and Fabio Cannavaro proving you don’t have to be tall to dominate in central defence. But if you only remember one thing from World Cup 2006, it’s probably Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi.
It’s unfortunate maybe, but there’s no way any other story tops the World Cup 2006 billing. The video of Zidane charging and Matrix falling didn’t just make the football news, it made news everywhere. Even those who didn’t care about the beautiful game briefly paid attention to see the crazy Frenchman knock down his Italian opponent. Believe it or not, the incident is still making news today.
There are so many comedy videos and video games made about the incident, it took me a little longer than expected to find some straightforward YouTube of the incident. But I did, and it’s below.
Remember at the time we all thought there’d been some sort of racial slur from Materazzi thaty provoked Zidane’s attack? We were wrong. Because a few days later Zidane corroborated Materazzi’s statement that the Italian defender had insulted his sister.
In many ways the incident shouldn’t be all that famous. It’s just footballer A insulting footballer B, and footballer B getting sent off for his reaction. It’s not that uncommon.
What makes it stand out are three things. First, it was the World Cup final. So that’s a big deal. Second, it was well known that this was the great Zizou’s last ever game of professional football. Ever. Third, and probably most importantly, it was the headbutt to the chest, which I don’t think we’d ever seen before. If it was just a punch or a shove or even a headbutt to the head, then it’s just another reaction. But a headbutt to the chest? That’s unexpected.
Maybe it’s a shame that Zizou went out like that, especially as he’d been so brilliant in the rest of the tournament. But Zinedine Zidane’s popularity, reputation, and legacy as a great footballer don’t seem to have suffered as a result.
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