Saturday April 4 2020
Zidane always was a hot-head

Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi wasn’t the only blot on his otherwise-perfect copybook, as Livio Caferoglu explains.

When you think of Italy’s World Cup conquest in 2006, the first image to come to mind should be Fabio Cannavaro standing aloft with the trophy in his arms and confetti raining down behind him. Instead, for 99 percent of those who watched the Azzurri beat France on penalties in Berlin, it’s Zinedine Zidane planting his shiny bald head into the chest of Marco Materazzi.

Many viewed the latter as a case of Materazzi pulling off his masterplan, but the majority agreed that the incident marked a sad ending to Zidane’s illustrious career. The tournament was supposed to be the Frenchman’s curtain call before retirement and he had spent it winding the clock black with some brilliant performances, in particular against old foes Brazil.

For most part, the majority were correct. Yet that sentiment also served to suggest the headbutt was his only indiscretion when, in fact, he has previous. Plenty of previous.

It may come as a surprise to some, but the former Juventus star was sent off 14 times as a professional. His first red card came while he was playing for Bordeaux in September 1993. Although Marcel Desailly may have made the first move with an elbow, Zizou responded by punching his future France teammate and fellow World Cup winner in the face.

Five years later, during Les Bleus’ World Cup success on home soil, Zidane became the first French player to be dismissed in a Finals match after he stamped on Saudi Arabia’s Fuad Anwar. Then, during the 2000-01 campaign, he was handed a five-match ban for headbutting Hamburg’s Jochen Kientz. The impact was so severe that Kientz suffered a fractured cheekbone and concussion, leaving him sidelined for more than a month.

By that point, Zidane had already incurred 10 red cards even before his then-world record transfer to Real Madrid in the summer of 2001. Five years later, he was the star of his own documentary film, ‘Zidane, a 21st-Century Portrait’. The match was meant to showcase the best of Zizou during a league game for Los Blancos, against Villarreal in April 2005.

On the contrary, it showed how geniuses had flaws like the rest of us mere mortals. Just like in the World Cup Final, Zizou had already scripted the climactic ending as he was sent off for throwing his hand into an opponent’s face.

Materazzi saw how easy it was to provoke Zidane into headbutting him on the grandest stage of them all, but it could be argued that he had the Madrid boss hook, line and sinker. The pair were protagonists of the final, each scoring for their respective nations to leave the scoreline finely poised at 1-1, but the defender knew he had Zizou cornered. In bad taste or not, he’d done his homework and took his chance when it came.

Both men have hinted at what Materazzi said, and it really was not enough to warrant such a reaction. The fact Zidane waited for a moment and considered his options before turning to physical assault only made it worse. Pundits raged on about how out of character this was, but looking back throughout his career, it was anything but unusual for Zizou.

That would prove to be the defining moment in the Final as the momentum swung in Italy’s favour after mounting French pressure. CT Marcello Lippi, who is using the lockdown to watch back all the Azzurri’s games in Germany, told Rai Radio 1 earlier this week that he was "pretty stunned by Zidane’s behaviour. I worked with him at Juventus, he is an extraordinary person, really humble and intelligent."

While Zidane was, without doubt, an extraordinary, humble and intelligent person, for how he fought poverty to become one of the greatest footballers of all time, it is also true that there was a darker side to his artistry.

Have your say...
Zidane is right behind Maradona and Pele? No way! He was sent off in 1998 which should have seen him miss the final instead the 3 game ban was reduced to 2. Then banned for a cowardly stomp in 2002. And twice in 2006! Meanhwhile Totti gets a 5 game match for spitting at a player's direction captured by a fellow danish home video fan in the stadium? Please, FIFA is a joke and as great as Zidane was, to give him the award in 2006 ahead or Pirlo was a disgrace.
on the 7th April, 2020 at 7:20pm
I take back what I said about Zidane being on par but no better than Zico...I just watched a Zico highlights reel & he dumps all over Zidane. Yes, Zifrog was a Galactico & is more decorated, yet he has nothing on Zico, or Socrates for that matter who was both a genuine midfield maestro & team leader. As was Platini, who IMO is the greatest French player of all time. Without the violence or financial backing & media hype of being a "Galactico", these two team leaders still make Zizou look Zzzzz.
on the 6th April, 2020 at 12:39pm
Zizou overated ? How can anyone say that? The man has a World Cup medal where he scored twice, European championship medal where he was the best player of an absolutely wonderful tournament, scored perhaps the best goal in cl history while winning it and should have won 2 more with Juventus and someone has the temerity to say he is more flashy than effective. IMO the 2nd greatest player of all time after Maradona, just above Pele. Though that’s a lot of red cards for someone of his ilk and style
on the 5th April, 2020 at 2:58pm
I am an Italy fan, but with all honesty, let's stop pretending that most fault is at Zidane. We know Materazzi, he is a filthy human being and player. The head butt was a poor judgement reaction to Materazzi's disgusting techniques. Zidane should have been smarter, but in this incidence, Materazzi knew how to get to his head and was the smart one.

Regardless of all that. Zidane is probably one of the best midfielders if not the best of all times.
on the 5th April, 2020 at 12:32pm
anonymous you are like a lot of people jealous of Italys success and always trying to play down Italys great football pedigree its obvious you are from a country that as not been very successful in international and depraved of the enjoyment of watching your team win
on the 5th April, 2020 at 12:24pm
Anonymous - STOP YOURSELF!!! The Italians are cheats and liars... = Low IQ
on the 5th April, 2020 at 11:59am
zidane did have 12 red card throughout his career 11 straight red cards he had acted out before, hell every player loses it even pirlo who most people consider a calm player had 2 straight red cards. Zidane is completely at fault the opposition is of course trying to get him sent off like the france team was trying to get italian players sent off it is competitive football after all.

It not like materazzi is a choir boy either even his own italian team mates slapped him around in training.
on the 5th April, 2020 at 11:55am
What amazed me from the 2006 WC was the fact that Zidane was awarded the player of the tournament ahead of Pirlo, Cannavaro and Buffon. It was an absolute traversty as Zidane not only was sent off for a violent act in the final, but also missed a knock-out game due to an accumulation of yellow cards in the group stage. On top of that his only truly brilliant game was against Brazil, otherwise he did not have a great world cup - FIFA was a disgrace to award his violent conduct with the award.
on the 5th April, 2020 at 4:49am
About 14 years too late, but still correct. The incident involving Materazzi, aside from all thats mentioned above, it was Zidane who first turned around to mouth-off when both players were walking up the pitch after a clearance from a set-piece.

As celebrated as he is, he was very overrated. More flashy than effective. And those who say otherwise are generally too young to remember - the nonsense, videogame, FIFA generation.
on the 5th April, 2020 at 1:01am
About that first red card match, Zizou was already a Bordeaux player, even more, in his second season. Les Girondins (1st place) were on winning that away game, taking the lead against Marseille (6th) from the first minute, eventually losing it by 3 to 1.
on the 4th April, 2020 at 9:58pm
Zinedine Zithug was a wonderful player. Unfortunately he let himself, France and neutral fans down with that headbutt. I also believe he is overated. IMO he is on par but no better than Zico, Iniesta, Socrates, Baggio or Platini...who we're all model sportsman on the field.
on the 4th April, 2020 at 9:43pm

France cheated first.Look at your father Malouda dived to get penalty.Matterrazzi did not even caught malouda.
on the 4th April, 2020 at 4:55pm
France were not going to score anyway
on the 4th April, 2020 at 4:51pm
Nice piece, Livio. Zidane is an all time great, but he was definitely given to "rage induced blackouts" in my opinion. But that is human nature. I personally believe that that in this instance his rage built slowly from the moment Gigi Buffon stopped his late match, potentially winning header. Watch the replay, watch Zidane's face. I think his fuse was short by the time the Matrix made his comment.Every great footballer had personal flaws: drinking, overeating or laziness. They were still great.
on the 4th April, 2020 at 2:32pm
The Italians are cheats and liars and have very short memories, Mazzeratti said very bad things about Zidan's sister and mother, very bad he should have been banned for life, typical of the italian players, the last thing they do is try to play football, it's all about cheating, and trying to con plus injuring the opposition as much as possible also rotational fouling targeting the best player on the oppositions team, to sum up, they are dirty and zidane should have been forgiven.
on the 4th April, 2020 at 2:26pm

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