Sunday, July 09, 2006
Marco Tardelli for Italy (vs West Germany), 11th July 1982
Oh Zizou, what have you done?
It had all started so well. That penalty in the 7th minute was stunning: this is the World Cup final, the game is set at 0-0 and you have the nerve to step up to face the tournament's best goalkeeper and produce an audacious chip.
You could have settled it too. If that header in the 104th minute had just been a fraction wider of Buffon, then it could all have ended so differently. But it wasn't to be. A short conversation with Marco Materazzi six minutes later was followed by that moment of madness and it was all over. What a way to end such a stunning career. What a way to be remembered. Our final glimpse of one of the legends of the game is as he trudges past the World Cup trophy on his way to the dressing room.
It wasn't a great game, truth be told. Italy looked the stronger for the first hour, but then seemed to fade badly after Lippi took off Francesco Totti and moved Camoranesi over to the left flank. From then on, France seemed marginally the better of the two sides, but it was essentially a stalemate. The fear of losing seemed to be greater than the urge to go out and win the game outright, and penalties looked a real possibility fairly early in the second half.
Nobody seemed to stand out. Matarazzi certainly had an interesting game: conceding a penalty, scoring a goal, playing a central part in the dramatic end to Zinedine Zidane and then stepping up to score a penalty in the shootout.... but did any player really stand out? Certainly not for the right reasons.
What can you say about Zidane? Our memories of this fantastic player are forever going to be coloured by his sending off. It doesn't matter what Matarazzi said to him - and he certainly said something. I know that Zidane has shown a streak of malice in the past - and I'm thinking of his stamp on that Saudi Arabian in the 1998 tournament as well as his suspension this time around.... but surely a player of that much experience could have walked away? As it was, if Matarazzi hadn't fallen to the ground after that intial headbutt, it looked like Zidane would have followed it up with a punch. Madness. The red card was surely inevitable. It looked for a moment as though the referee and the linesman had missed it, but after a short delay, out came the card and France's number 10 was off. France were stunned. I was stunned. The world was stunned. The penalties went by in a daze. The Italians have an even worse record in shootouts than the English, but this time I never really thought it was in any doubt.... with Zidane, Henry and Viera off the pitch, France were surely missing three of their penalty takers. Neither keeper made a save, and Italy were World Champions thanks to David Trezeguet's miss.
In the end, I think the best side won the tournament.... tomorrow 13 members of the Italian squad could be looking for a new club, but for tonight they can celebrate the clinching of their 4th World Cup. Will the rest of the world remember Fabio Cannavaro, probably the tournament's outstanding player, lifting that trophy?
It will all be about Zidane.
The 2006 World Cup's defining images?
Shouldn't we be remembering this?