Have you ever headbutted a competitor on your last day at work before retiring?
If you have, you’re not alone.
French football star Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the 2006 World Cup Final for headbutting Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest. The act was committed in retaliation to Materazzi’s earlier verbal provocation.
As the players jogged up the pitch close to each other in the dying minutes of the game, there was a brief exchange of words after Materazzi was witnessed tugging at Zidane’s jersey before Zidane proceeded to walk away from him. Zidane then stopped suddenly before turning around to headbutt Materazzi’s chest, knocking him to the ground in the process. Although the ball was out of play at the time, referee Horacio Elizondo didn’t appear to have noticed that a confrontation had taken place.
After consulting the sideline offcials, Elizondo showed Zidane the red card in the 110th minute. It was the 14th dismissal that Zidane had received in his career and it placed him with Cameroon’s Rigobert Song as the only players to ever get sent off in two separate World Cup tournaments. Zidane also became the fourth ever player to be red-carded in a World Cup final, as well as being the first to get sent off in extra time.
Despite initial claims made in British newspapers that Materazzi had called Zidane “the son of a terrorist whore,” the Italian insisted he did not insult Zidane’s mother who was ill at the time, and said, “I didn’t talk about his mother, either. I lost my mother when I was fifteen, and even now I still get emotional talking about it”.
Zidane later apologised but said that he did not regret the act, because he felt that this would condone Materazzi’s actions. Materazzi later offered his version of events and claimed that after grabbing Zidane’s jersey, Zidane remarked: “If you want my shirt, I will give it to you afterwards,” to which he replied that he would prefer Zidane’s sister. A year after the incident, Materazzi confirmed that the precise words he used were: “I prefer the whore that is your sister”.
The incident was repeatedly spoofed on the Internet and across popular culture and in addition to becoming a staple of parody via a swathe of online videos and GIFs, the incident also inspired a novelty record entitled Coup de Boule (“Headbutt”) which reached the top of the French charts.
Have a look at the video clip below and ask yourself if you would still be considered one of the all-time greats in your chosen field if you headbutted a competitor on your last day at work before retiring. It’s highly unlikely that anybody would make a song about it that gets to number one in the charts!