One of the most shocking incidents in World Cup history was sparked by words confirmed by Marco Materazzi that he said to Zinedine Zidane.
In his last appearance in professional football, Zidane sensationally headbutted Materazzi during extra-time in the 2006 World Cup final.
After losing his temper with the Italian defender, the France captain, who had almost single-handedly dragged his team through the knockout stages and enjoyed a magnificent tournament, was sent off in the 110th minute.
Hardly anyone, including referee Horacio Elizondo, noticed the off-the-ball incident that had just taken place.”
“At one moment I saw Materazzi lying on the floor, about thirty or forty meters away, and so I stopped the game,” the Argentina match official said, per AS, in 2018. “Swiftly, through our intercoms, I asked my assistants what happened. Surprisingly, both of them replied to me, ‘We saw absolutely nothing’.”
“Despite the fact that the incident went unnoticed by the referee Horacio Elizondo, his fourth official, Luis Medina Cantelejo, had witnessed the altercation, and it was his report that led to Zidane’s dismissal.
It’s worth noting that this was during the summer of 2006, well before the introduction of VAR.
“Dreadful, Zidane’s headbutt on Materazzi was dreadful… F***! Zidane headbutted Materazzi. When you see the video you will not believe me,” Cantelejo responded.
Millions of football fans around the world found themselves in the same boat when the replays were shown.
12 years ago Zidane did this to Materazzi.. pic.twitter.com/9ivg1T9de0
— 𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐔𝐥𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐎𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 (@thecasualultra) July 11, 2018
Zidane, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and a strong contender for the GOAT title, was only 10-15 minutes away from further cementing his status when he inexplicably ended his career in disgrace.
The enduring images of the French maestro walking to the dressing room, head bowed, past the World Cup trophy are now iconic.
Following the incident, there was an intense curiosity to know what Materazzi had said to Zidane that had provoked such a severe reaction.
As a result, the rumor mill went into overdrive, with people seeking answers and explanations.
Almost two decades later and some people are still unsure over the exact words that were used by Materazzi.
During a new interview withIFTV, Materazzi was asked the question. He then confirmed exactly what was said.
“My trash talking was nothing [compared to what is said in the NBA].
“He offered me his jersey. I said ‘no, I prefer your sister’.”
Watch the clip here:
“Zidane offered me his jersey, I said no I prefer his sister”
– Marco Materazzi on what was really said before he got headbutted pic.twitter.com/0XlVrgeJso
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) April 7, 2023
What else did Materazzi say about the Zidane headbutt?
“Many newspapers destroyed me,” Materazzi added during the interview. “A tabloid in London wrote very bad words on me. I won against them – and that’s not normal. I won in the courts.”
Asked if he thought ‘wow’ after sending off Zidane, Materazzi said: “No, I never thought ‘wow’ because the game [hadn’t finished]. But when he did it, I was on the floor. If you look at me, I never get up. No red card, I never get up!”