ZIDANE'S HEADER

THE ACTION
THE REACTION


France legend Zinedine Zidane was sent-off in disgrace as Italy win the World Cup final 2006 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Berlin. Zidane - who had scored the opener from the spot after seven minutes - was dismissed in extra time for a terrible headbutt on Marco Matterazzi. Materazzi had an incredible night, giving away the penalty and scoring the equaliser twelve minutes later.

But all the talk will be about Zidane, shown a straight red in his final ever match as a professional and in the World Cup final no less. Five minutes into the second period of extra-time he exchanged words with the Inter Milan defender, which seemed to be good-natured until the France captain turned around and aimed a headbutt directly into Materazzi's chest.

It was an inexplicable act, and one can only assume that Materazzi's final words to Zizou were sufficiently provocative to inspire such a reaction. He almost got away with it too, the incident so off-the-ball that neither referee Horacio Elizondo nor his assistants initially spotted it, only acting when Italy's players and coach implored him to speak with the fourth and fifth officials.

France coach Raymond Domenech does not blame Zinedine Zidane's moment of madness for costing them victory in the World Cup final on Sunday. Zidane was rightly sent-off for violent conduct in extra-time after headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi. "There are moments, when you take blows for 80 minutes, I'm not saying I'm excusing it but I can understand," Domenech told reporters after the match.

Quite what the maverick coach "understands" only he knows. Zidane turned round after walking away from Materazzi before launching a flying assault into the chest of the Inter centre-back that stunned Italy's players and bench. The two had completed what initially seemed to be a light-hearted exchange of words before the now-retired former Juventus and Real Madrid star snapped. One can only assume that Materazzi final words pushed the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship winner over the edge, although there can be no excuse for the reaction, which was unquestionably deliberate.

Domenech certainly feels so, saying: "I don't know. I think Materazzi was perhaps involved. Something must have happened. I don't think Zidane decided out of the blue to react in such a way that he would be sent off. He didn't just say to himself, 'I'm tired, you can't take me off so I'm going to get myself sent off.' Something must have happened but I don't know what.

He did acknowledge that the sending-off affected the game. "We missed Zinedine Zidane a lot in the last 10 minutes. His absence weighed heavily on the match," Domenech admitted. "Yes, we can say that Zidane being sent off was the moment that killed the game. Especially in extra time - the Italians were obviously waiting for the penalty shootout."

It is not the first time Zidane has been sent-off in a World Cup for violent conduct, dismissed during France's 1998 World Cup winning run after stamping on a Saudi Arabian player. His lack of discipline did not only sabotage France's attempts to win the trophy for a second time but has perhaps irreversibly tarnished the memory of one of the greatest careers in sport.

HOW DID THE WORLD VIEW THE ZIDANE HEADER ?


FRENCH VIEW

ITALIAN VIEW

WORLD MEDIA VIEW


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