Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Italy’s Marco Materazzi remains one of FIFA World Cup’s most intriguing stories.
In his last appearance as an international footballer, the French legend rammed his head into the Italy defender’s chest during extra time of the 2006 World Cup final after Materazzi said something to him. The France captain was red-carded and Italy went on to win the title on penalty kicks.
The incident sparked weeks of speculation about what Materazzi might have told Zidane to provoke such a reaction, and the Italian eventually acknowledged that he had insulted Zidane’s sister.
Speaking to Italian media outlet PassioneInter, Materazzi said, “It felt like a big bang, I didn’t want to take yet another scolding from Gattuso and so I held his shirt. He responded and that’s what happened, luckily, I didn’t expect it otherwise I would have had an early shower too. He asked me if I wanted his shirt, I told him I wanted his sister.”
Remembering the winning Italian side of 2006, Materazzi had said, “I was making a beautiful mess, but everyone did a bit. It’s easier to say who kept quiet. After the games it was always a party, we were a great squad. Pirlo? How many jokes with Gattuso. He always seems quiet but he’s very clever, very clever.”
Talking about toxic fan culture, Materazzi said, “In all the stadiums they sang against me ‘son of a bitch’, judges don’t understand anything. Everybody’s being all morale about this racism thing. You have to punish everybody, you have to close the Curva even for normal insults. Chants are always doing it to annoy the other side, I used to get angry. Why can they wind up me or Balotelli? If you sing against Neapolitans they close the Curva, if you sing against the Genoans they close the Curva.
“Even if it means the end of football because there will be no more fans. You have to ignore them, otherwise, there are cameras and they don’t enter the stadiums anymore. It has to be like that in all the stadiums, otherwise, the judges are clowns and cowards.”
Zidane had also expressed regret over the incident after the World Cup. “I am not proud of what happened in 2006. I am not advising anyone (player) to behave in the same manner,” he had said.
The final was the French football legend’s last ever appearance as a player.