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Monday, July 10, 2006

FIFA World Cup 2006 Finals: Ending your career Head-first

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Image hosting by PhotobucketIn what must be one of the most memorable finals ever, Italy took home the gold - World Champions for the fourth time in their footballing history, defeating France 5-3 on penalties, from a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, plus another 30 minutes of extra time.

But the FIFA World Cup 2006 Final in Berlin will probably not be remembered for who won it for how many times.

It will be remembered for a head-butt that has literally ended the career of a legend.

From BBC Sports - Image hosting by PhotobucketFrom BBC Sports - Zidane headbutts
his career into football history

What the f*ck was Zizou thinking of when he deliberately gave Marco Materazzi a head-butt to the chest?? And that, of course, meant an automatic Red Card - expulsion from the game. His final game (so he's said) for a career in football that can only be described as illustrious. Was it the powerful header just minutes before that was denied by Buffon's brilliant save? Or the fact that France were going nowhere, despite Italy playing like a totally different team from the first half (they played a totally different, crappy game the 46th minute on)?

Whatever the reason, a night that would have been a celebration of a magnificent career, ended in disgrace for Zinadine Zidane. There are some that viewed the incident with delight (but then this guy is well-known for his idiocy, so no big surprise). Walski's only possible reaction was: wtf??!!??

In any case, Italy won, by virtue of a penalty shoot-out. All five of their spot-kicks defeated Fabien Barthez, another player whose swan song was this year's final. Andrea Pirlo started the penalty shoot-out with a successful kick straight down the middle, followed by Marco Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Del Piero, and finally Fabio Grosso with the match winner.

When striker David Trezeguet missed his spot kick for France, Walski had a feeling that the Italians would be champions this time around - and Walski was right.
(more final thoughts in the full post)

From BBC Sports - Image hosting by PhotobucketFrom BBC Sports - Italy: Winners of the FIFA World Cup 2006

In all it has been a stupenduous tournament, despite the spell of bad refereeing in some of the matches. It will only be a short respite for football fans, however, as the English Premier League will be starting very soon, and the Italian Serie A, and Primera Liga, not long after - plenty of football for the rest of the year.

But the biggest loser this time around was not Brazil, who squandered their chance of winning for an unprecedented 6th time - many don't even think they even showed up at all. It wasn't even France, despite losing the final match.

It was Zinadine Zidane. And tonight Zizou is probably the loneliest man in football. Even France has reason to celebrate - a valiant effort in a memorable final. A momentary lapse of reason has left a permenant scar on a truly illustrious career in football. In many ways, Walski is sad for the man - it should never have ended like it did.

(More reports (from BBC Sports) on Zinadine Zidane: Coach Domenech Defends Zizou and "Zidane's Red Mist")

So, that's it for the World Cup this time around. Not for another four years. A memorable tournament, with a spectacular finish - for all the right and wrong reasons.