World Cup Special: 18 Tournaments, 18 Moments – Germany 2006

Zidane’s headbutt

“I’d prefer your whore of a sister.” Marco Materazzi

Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materrazzi are jogging out of Italy’s penalty when the Italian puts his arms around the Frenchman and tugs on his shirt.

“If you want my shirt that badly I’ll give it to you at the end of the match,” Zidane says and starts to run past him.

As he is still within earshot Materazzi retorts: “I’d prefer your whore of a sister.”

Zidane slows down, turns on his heels, and just as Materazzi cathches up with him he recived a headbutt square to the chest.

That is the sequence of events, with the words provided by Materazzi, which bought the curtain down on a glittering carer.

Before the game had kicked off, Zidane, fresh out of retirement to lead the French, had been named player of the 2006 World Cup.

It was Zidane’s second appearance in a World Cup final and his superb dinked penalty earned him a place among a select group of players who had scored in two separate finals.

France went on to lose the game on penalties, David Trezeguet missing the final spot-kick, which may have been Zidane’s if he had managed to stay on the pitch.

The headbutt incident transcended football and was even lampooned on US animated comedy Family Guy.

Some time after the game, Italy manager Marcelo Lippi said: “Too much importance has been put on this incident. It’s almost as if there is more talk about that head butt than Italy’s World Cup victory.”

The incident was the last act committed by Zidane in his career. The Frenchman announced his intention to retire from both his club side Real Madrid and France before the match.

And many commentators, outside France, have claimed that the incident has left an permanent stain on an other wise glittering care.

But Zidane himself – despite his critics – remains unrepentant.

When asked by ESPN if we hould apolgize for the incident in March, Zidane said: “Never, never. It would be to dishonour me. I’d rather die. There are evil people, and I don’t even want to hear those guys speak.”