Monday, July 10, 2006

The Headbutt Heard 'Round The World

Talk about making a complete ass of yourself in front of literally the entire world. Zinedine Zidane, the great French striker, was calling it a career after yesterday's World Cup Final against Italy. Zidane became the feel-good story of the tournament, going out in blaze of glory in attempting to get France to the top. There was a lot of "2004 Red Sox" in this France team, as they were nearly eliminated in the opening round, and weren't picked to win it all, but got on one of those rolls that had "Cinderella Story" and "legendary championship team" written all over it.

Sadly for France, it was not to be.

I saw the match at Professor Thom's, and I got there 45 minutes before the match started. The bar was already jammed, and the crowd at the beginning was decidely pro-French, but many Italian supporters also came in, and it was about 50-50 throught the match.

It all started out well for France, as Zidane scored a 6th minute penalty (a questionable call though). He nearly blew it as the shot hit the inside of the crossbar and barely crossed the goal line. Italy eventually came back to tie it midway through the first half. Late in the match, Zidane narrowly missed scoring on a header that would have given France the lead, but Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon made a spectacular save.

The game went to overtime, and in the 110th minute, Zidane had a complete meltdown, and headbutted Italian player Marco Materazzi after what appear to be some trash talk between the two. The referee had no option but to red card Zidane, and France was down to 10 men.

The match went to penalty kicks, and Italy prevailed, 5-3, to win their fourth World Cup championship. Italy's title was overshadowed by Zidane's exit. He now has billions of people talking about his inglorious departure. Zidane is generally known as one of Europe's legendary players, as he led France to the 1998 World Cup title, and the 2000 European championship. Now as he calls it a career, he will be remembered for just one complete breakdown on the field at the worst possible time for his team, in the biggest match in the world seen by over a billion people.

He may want to rethink retirement right now.

Or go hide in a cave someplace.


Michael Leggett said...

Materazzi, in a report of "NBA Style Trash Talking", reportedly referred to Zindane, An Algerian by Birth as a "Sand -igger":

Materazzi sure could fit in well, in, let's say, Howard Beach & Dyker Heights.

MattySox said...

Nice post, and I'll have a WC and Red Sox post up tonight or tomorrow, as we finally have internet at home again.

WelshSoxFan said...

I'd say he's remembered more as one of the all time greatest players i history, not just Europe. I think ultimately he'll be remembered as such. The furore over the headbutt will die down and people will eventually just remember how good he really was. It makes a difference that it came late in the game and didn't REALLY affect the result as much as it could have.

For the record though, as much as you can't go around headbutting people, how much racial abuse should a person have to take just because he's wearing the jersey of the opposition? I have read that Materazzi called him 'a dirty terrorist', but we may never know the exact truth. If someone was racially abusing one of us, I'd say a good percentage of people would take a swing at him. I just wish that if Zidane was going to headbutt him and get sent off, he would have at least nutted him in the nose and given the guy something to think about next time he wanted to be a loudmouthed racist