Okay, okay, being the sentimental fool that I am, I must admit that my preference was slightly heavier on Les Bleus seeing that it was Zinedine Zidane’s very last competitive match.
In any case, what it was that I truly hoped for was a grand finals clash that would leave a sweet, unforgettable aftertaste lasting for the next four years.
Unforgettable I got, yes, but so far from sweet. Zizou, pedigree and all, had his farewell match rudely truncated when he was red carded off the pitch at Extra Time. Zizou, extremely experienced and all, turned around and gloriously head-butted in the chest—much like a raging bull—the Azzurri’s Materazzi after some words were exchanged at high temperatures.
As soon as I saw that, I turned to my ever-so-loyal WC06 buddy that is my father, and said, “Being Italian, I am so sure that he must’ve said something very crude about either Zidane’s mother, or wife, or God.”
Today, my suspicions became facts. After days of staying silent, the (ex) French skipper has finally spoken.
'If I reacted that way, it is because something bad happened. Do you really believe that 10 minutes before the end of my career I would be able to make such a bad gesture? The provocation was very serious.'
'There was no tension with Materazzi before or during the match,' Zidane said.
'He just put his hand on to my shirt and I told him to stop. I told him that if he wanted it I could give it to him at the end of the match.
'Then he said very harsh words to me and repeated them several times. I left but then I went back towards him and things went very fast.
'The words he said concerned my mother and sister. I heard them once, then twice, and the third time I couldn't control myself. I am a man and some words are harder to hear than actions.
'I would have rather been knocked down than hear that.
'Afterwards I explained to the referee that I had been provoked, but my behaviour is not forgivable,' Zidane said.
The 1998 World Cup winner, who could even be stripped of his Golden Ball award as the player of the 2006 tournament, said: 'The reaction is always punished but if there is no provocation there is no reaction. The guilty person is the one who provokes.
During an interview with French television station Canal Plus, in which Zidane gave his first public comments on the incident, Zidane publicly apologised for being sent off but insisted he did not regret his actions.
'I reacted badly and I would like to apologise for it,' Zidane said.
'I would like to apologise because a lot of children were watching the match. I do apologise but I don't regret my behaviour because regretting it would mean he was right to say what he said.'
Materazzi, of course, denies saying anything of the sort.
'I didn't mention anything about religion, politics or racism,' he said. (earlier reports speculated that the Italian defender called Zidane "a dirty terrorist.")
'I didn't insult his mother. I lost my mother when I was 15 years old and still get emotional when I talk about it.
'Naturally, I didn't know that his mother was in hospital but I wish her all the best.
'Zidane is my hero and I have always admired him a lot.'
If whatever you're claiming is true, Signor, then fine. But if you are guilty of any of the above, then vafangkulo (however you spell it) to you!
Whatever the case, I hope FIFA takes this very, very seriously.