The legendary France captain and current Real Madrid boss saw red in his final game on the biggest stage after he was provoked by an opposition player
As Zinedine Zidane prepares to take charge of his first full season back at the helm of Real Madrid, the Frenchman will be looking to build on a storied legacy as both player and manager.
The 47-year-old won Serie A, La Liga and Champions League titles at club level as an attacking midfielder and, since hanging up his boots, has lifted the latter two as the boss of Madrid, too.
At international level, he was a member of France’s 1998 World Cup-winning side on home soil and represented them in both South Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006, captaining them to the final in the latter.
It is this match in particular, played in Berlin just over 13 years ago on July 9, 2006, that arguably encapsulated both Zidane’s magical skill and occasionally volatile temperament, as he wrote his name into history again eight years after netting a double against Brazil to help lift the FIFA World Cup trophy in Paris.
Having given France the lead against Italy early on, he was unable to prevent an equaliser from Marco Materazzi that tied up the game and forced extra-time.
During the latter period of this, in the 110th minute, Zidane infamously turned after what appeared to be verbal provocation and headbutted the centre-back, earning him a straight red card.
He would be forced to sit out his side’s subsequent penalty shoot-out, in which they lost 5-3 as the Azzurri were crowned world champions.
But just who is Materazzi and why did Zidane see fit to confront him?
Who is Marco Materazzi?
A veteran defender who spent much of his early career as a journeyman across lower leagues, the 45-year-old made his debut as a teenager with Messina in 1990 before proceeding to spend much of the following decade bouncing around various Serie B and C clubs in his home country.
He spent two separate spells with Umbria-based outfit Perugia, between 1995 and 2001, which were punctured by a season-long spell with Everton, where he managed to get sent off three times in 27 games.
His typically aggressive performances marked him out as a controversial figure but also saw him produce results, with his last season at Perugia seeing him break the Serie A record for most goals by a defender in a season in 2000-01.
He was also a member of the side that defeated Zidane and Juventus on the final day of the 1999-2000 season, with the Bianconeri seeing their would-be title snatched away by Lazio.
At the age of 27, Materazzi won his first call-up to Italy’s national team, and made his debut in April 2001 against South Africa. His eye-catching form also earned him a move to a European heavyweight, with a switch to Inter, where he would spend virtually the rest of his first-team career.
At San Siro, he was again a controversial presence, sparking a confrontation at the end of his first season when Inter lost the Serie A title race against Lazio on the final day.
Two years later, he punched Siena player Bruno Cirillo in the dressing room after a match, which earned him an eight-match ban.
Under Roberto Mancini, however, he tempered his off-field issues and helped driver Inter to five consecutive Serie A crowns, during which he was a consistent presence for Italy at international level too.
Initially named as a reserve player for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he replaced Alessandro Nesta and established himself in the playing squad, though he missed the quarter-final against Ukraine thanks to a suspension picked up for a red card against Australia in the round of 16.
Why did Zidane headbutt him?
Speculation has raged on since the encounter over the chain of events and dialogue that led to the infamous incident 10 minutes out from a penalty shoot-out at the Olympiastadion.
Both players scored in regular time to send the final into extra-time, during which Zidane forced Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon into a fine save following a powerful header.
As they headed down the pitch together, Materazzi was seen tugging on Zidane’s jersey and exchanging words with the France captain.
Though he initially turned away, Zidane pivoted seconds later and headbutted Materazzi firmly in the chest, with the latter falling to the floor.
Referee Horacio Elizondo was subsequently informed of events through fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo and dismissed Zidane with a straight red card.
Post-match interviews from both men painted different pictures, with Zidane claiming that he responded to remarks made about his then-ill mother by Materazzi, while the latter refuted such comments and claimed that his attacker had been arrogant.
Three British newspapers all claimed that Materazzi had referred to Zidane’s mother as both a terrorist and a whore, allegations that the former later successfully won public apologies and libel damages for.
Zidane later apologised but stated that he did not regret his assault as he felt this would condone Materazzi’s actions. The latter offered two differing subsequent accounts, in both of which he instead admitted to making vulgar references to Zidane’s sister, though he claimed he was unaware of whether he had any siblings.
Click Here: Atlanta United FC Jersey