Once upon a time.. The great Zinedine Zidane was lacing up his cleats for one last as he attempted to write history. The stage was set for the frenchmen to retire as a World Cup champion after an amazing tournament. France had eliminated some of the tournament’s best in the previous rounds including Spain, Portugal and even the star-filled Brazilian team.
On the other hand, the Italians had squeaked by Germany in extra time and were hardly challenged during the entire tournament. They required a made-up penalty in the Round of 16 to beat Australia and their offense never fully seemed to click.
Zidane had the opportunity to shine early in the game when France was awarded a penalty less than 10 minutes into the game. In the biggest game of the biggest tournament in the world, the frenchmen had the audacity to chip Buffon and even got the lucky bounce off the post to put France up 1-0.
Their celebration was cut short after Marco Materazzi rose up and connected on Andrea Piro’s corner that flew past the flying Fabian Barthez. A game that was expected to be a defensive and hard-fought game had already given us two goals in less than 20 minutes.
However, the early game fireworks quickly ended and the game’s intensity level dropped. The game became defensive and no teams successfully created significant danger. Zidane and Henry had some promising chances in the dying minutes but neither were able to beat Buffon.
Just as the World began to fall asleep during the first half of Extra Time, Zinedine Zidane did one of the most unexpectedly shocking things anyone had ever seen in a World Cup final. No one has ever come out and admitted to the exact action sequence leading up to Zidane’s loss of control. However, what the World saw that night was inexplicable. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that night: the classy Zidane had gone bezerk.
Zidane was seen exchanging words with Italian defender Marco Materazzi and had even jogged away for awhile. Suddenly, Materazzi says something and Zidane waits for him and attacks him with a headbutt. Referee Horacio Elizondo didn’t doubt his expulsion for a quick second. One of the greatest in history walked past the World Cup trophy with his head down as he left the sport with a redcard.
The game was eventually decided in penalty spots after David Trezeguet penalty, much like Zidane’s earlier in the game, hit the post. Sadly, France had used up their good luck charm and Trezeguet shot bounced out. Fabio Grosso put away the World Cup winning penalty ending Italy’s World Cup drought since 1982.
At the end of the day, few people genuinely remember either of the goals, or even Grosso’s winning penalty. The 2006 World Cup final will always be remembered as the moment the forever elegant Zidane lost his cool and cost his team the tournament.