Zidane HeadbuttJul 10th, 2006
10th July 2006
Final duties: The Algerian Zinedine Zidane arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris today to meet French President Jacques Chirac. Like a lot of the "France" team - probably the majority of it - he isn't French.
Zinedine Zidane, who was sent off for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest during the World Cup final, was responding to being called 'a terrorist', according to reports today.
Zidane's headbutt was "provoked" by a comment from the Italy defender, according to the player's agent.
And, while Alain Migliaccio did not know what Materazzi said, he confirmed that Zidane would reveal all soon.
The France captain was sent off in the World Cup final - his last game before retirement - after driving his shaven head into the chest of Materazzi in the first period of extra time.
The Italians went on to win a penalty shootout after extra time had ended with the score level at 1-1 while the best player of his generation lurked somewhere in the bowels of Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
But Zidane's agent, Migliaccio, claims Materazzi insulted the French-born son of Algerian immigrants.
"He was very sad for everything that happened but this is life," Migliaccio told Radio Five Live.
"He is a human being not a god. I know Zizou (Zidane) well and even though he hasn't told me exactly what Materazzi said, I know that he was provoked.
"Materazzi said something very grave to him, I don't know what it was. I know Zizou well and he will not reveal what Materazzi said to him but he will in one or two days' time explain why he had such a reaction.
"When he is calmer he will speak. When I saw him at 2am he was very sad, he didn't want to end his career like this. He was simply very sad.
"He is a person that doesn't say much but bottles it up and then one day explodes."
Others had earlier claimed he was riled by goading by Materazzi, who was clearly seen twisting the Frenchman's nipple in the run-up to the incident.
While Materazzi refused to comment after the match there has been speculation in French newspaper L'Equipe that he called the French-Algerian Zidane "a terrorist."
Zidane's furious French team-mate William Gallas raged at Materazzi's provocation. "When I see this, I want to smash his face. Sometimes you have players who are clever and say something to you and you are very angry and want to kill that player."
I am ashamed of Zizou, says Leboeuf
Lashing out: Zidane's headbutt powers into the chest of Materazzi
However, Zidane's fellow former World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf is at a loss to explain what made the France captain commit his shameful headbutt.
Leboeuf, part of the team alongside Zidane which won the World Cup on home soil in 1998, can still scarcely believe what he saw from his old colleague in Berlin.
"I cannot accept what he did," the ex-Chelsea defender told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"I think Materazzi said something very bad to him for him to react like that.
"But it doesn't matter what he said - you cannot agree with what he did. I feel very ashamed - because it is not the kind of thing that this team does."
Zidane will never have the chance to redeem himself, because the final against Italy was his last match before retirement - and that makes the incident even more regrettable for Leboeuf.
"He has been such a great footballer and a wonderful human being... I don't understand what happened," he added.
"He has a hot temper; he can react, as we have seen two or three times in his career.
"He is a very shy person, a quiet guy - not the kind of guy to show the image he did.
"He should have been focused on the real target - the World Cup. To go out like that, end his great career like that, is a pity."
Zidane given best player award
After his moment of madness, Zidane may have been the surprise winner of the Goldenball award but the voting for the award was carried at half-time in the final.
Zidane, 34, topped a poll of journalists covering the event ahead with 2,012 points ahead of Italian pair Fabio Cannavaro (1,977) and Andrea Pirlo (715).
Zidane was disappointing in France's opening games and was suspended for their crucial final group match against Togo.
He returned to give match-winning performances against Spain, Brazil and Portugal and had hoped for a glorious career finale in Berlin.
That was on course to happen as he netted the penalty that gave France the lead but Italy responded to take the match to extra time.
Zidane had a great chance to win the game when he forced a fine save from Gianluigi Buffon with a header but the last memory of him on a field was him charging at Materazzi and headbutting him in his chest over a comment made by the defender.