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World Cup Moments: Zinedine Zidane Headbutts Marco Materazzi

   

Zidane_headbutt

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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  • Jacek

    It couldn’t have ended any more beautifully….

  • Aidan

    Zidane was treated as a hero on his return to France, which of course he was, and they wouldn’t have reached the Final without him, but what a way to go out! It could be said to have cost France the chance of victory in the end, since he would certainly have been a penalty taker in the shoot out.

    And as for Materazzi, he had a hell of an evening – gave away the penalty for France to score, then equalised himself with a header, got head butted by Zidane, and then scored again in the penalty shoot out. Incredible!

  • Corey

    I was watching the final while working at Dicks Sporting Goods that summer. It was cool because there was a 100+ inch projection screen in the middle of the store showing the game. When he headbutted Materazzi, I was putting sensor tags on clothes and I cried a bit. A grown man at work cried to see his hero leave the game in such a manner. I will never forget that. Its like how everyone remembers in the US where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, or on 9/11. Of course those events were terrible and Zidane’s heabutt pale’s in comparison, but I am just making an analogy, not comparing the gravity of the events.

  • http://france.worldcupblog.org Laurie

    My favorite after-effect of the headbutt: The “Coup de Boule” (Headbutt) song. Catchy even if you don’t speak French, hysterical if you do. Lines like, “The ref saw it on TV/We lost the cup, but had a good laugh anyway.” (Loose translation.)

    Okay, it sounds better in French.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUa8ZLszr04

  • Peter Jenkins

    New to the FIFA World Cup (not as big here in America) but after reading “The Top 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live” where the event was ranked #2 BEST event in the world, I can’t wait to see it in person!

  • CB

    Its amazing how the Italians can always leave a negative effect on any event they participate in. ALthough the portuguese managed to leave a piss taste in your mouth after their circus stunts in the 2006 WC.

  • Nick

    A France Germany final would have been much more fun to watch. Anybody remember 1982? Instead we got a defensively acting Italian side and a “headless” after Zidane got sent off French side playing for penalties.

  • http://aaronarin.blogspot.com aaronarin

    zidane is my favorite player

  • John

    Zidane is a disgrace as a

    footballer
    French man
    man
    father
    son

    I wish I could post how I really feel

    regards

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