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Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane "headbutts" Italy to victory

Italy lift the World Cup for the 4th time
Oh boy! - what a final indeed. Italy won the World Cup for the 4th time and this time, they have more than their team to thank for. Of course, they played very good soccer throughout the tournament - but the final was not at all one-sided. In fact, for the first 110 minutes of the game, it was an enthralling contest with the score tied at 1-1. But then came the turning moment of the match - Zidane headbutted Materazzi and received a Red Card. When i saw that happen, I was in a state of shock - what the heck was Zidane thinking? - why did he lose his head at such a crucial time?. He was playing his last international game, there were 10 minutes to go before the penalties were to begin, he was France's most trusted general for penalties, Italy had a bad reputation in penalties - everything was going perfectly for him - a script tailormade for him to sign off in style. So, why did he do such a foolish thing that will haunt him and his legacy for years to come? - we don't know yet - I am not sure we will fully know what really happened.

The defining moment of the World Cup !

So, did Zidane cost France the World Cup? - i don't want to make such a grand statement but the momentum shifted towards the Italians after that. France was without their talisman, Italy was now playing against 10 Frenchmen who knew that their most trusted general had fallen and more importantly, they had Guffon, one of the best goalkeepers in the World Cup, in the goal and so, they were definitely playing for the penalties. Of course, that is a perfectly fine strategy and in fact, you play to your strength. People only remember wins and not defeats.

Sad end to a Glorious Career

What I felt amazed was what could have caused such a violent reaction by Zidane, a normally shy person. Of course, he has the history of having rushes in blood and a hot temper. So, it is definitely something very serious that must have caused Zidane to react in a manner that put his country's chances of winning the World Cup at stake. The things will be clearer as days go by as to what really happened - but the initial reports suggested that Materazzi said something about his mother and/or about he being "a terrorist" because of his Algerian descent.

Anyway, it is a bitter sweet end to a wonderful month of great football.

-- Thyaga

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