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Jul 9
Zidane's World Cup Final Lacks Leadership

The World Cup finale took a strange twist today when the sentimental darling, veteran, captain and French team leader Zinedine Zidane lost his composure and aggressively head-buttedzidane.jpg an Italian player in the chest. The action occurred in overtime and resulted in a red card, accompanied by an ejection. Zidane, who had scored France’s only goal in the early minutes and nearly scored the go ahead goal in overtime, was playing his last game. It was a storybook setting, but his dream ended in a nightmare.

He left the game in the second overtime period just as France seemed to be pressuring a tired Italian team. He never returned. He was not there to see his team lose the momentum they seemed to have in the second half of the match. He was not there as they fell in penalty kicks 5-4 to the Italians (he was their best shooter). He was not there to stand by his team as they accepted honors for finishing as the runner-up. When his team needed him most, he was not there.

Zidane led France to its World Cup victory in 1998. He came out of retirement for this World Cup and inspired his French team to the finals after a shaky start. He was the key to France’s victory over favored Brazil, scored the deciding goal against Portugal in the semis and scored early on a penalty kick in the match against Italy. Sadly, his final minutes of his exceptional international career were marred by his anger.

Zidane’s accomplishments are many. His career spanned 17 years of professional play during which he logged 108 international games for France, scored 31 goals and provided exceptional performances in victories at the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. He was a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and only the fourth player to score in two World Cup finals.

I was impressed throughout this World Cup by his composure. He played with calm and quiet confidence. He just delivered and seemed to avoid trouble. Thus it was such a bizarre scene when he attacked Italian defender Marco Materazzi.  But tonight was not the first time that Zidane turned to violent behavior.  According to the  International Herald Tribune:

"Some of us remembered that we had been this way before, in the 1998 World Cup when Zidane reacted to an insult from a Saudi Arabian player referring to Zizou's origins, with the North African Berber tribe. Zidane snapped then. He stamped on the Saudi's chest and was sent off.

He snapped again in Berlin, turning to Materazzi and using his head to violently butt the Italian in the chest. The Argentine referee, Hector Elizondo, had no option but to show the red card. The man meant to be hero was in disgrace, and worse, his compatriots were left a man short."

More disappointing than this one act was that he left his teammates, and his country, without their leader.

Read more about Zidane’s final game at the Washington Post and  Yahoo Sports.

6 Comments/Trackbacks

Hal, I thought this story would make a great LeaderNotes post - and so it was!

What a pity - for millions of football fans around the world, Zidane will be forever remembered for losing, at the most crucial moment, the very composure that won him such a great following.

come on, i dont think he is the one who should take responsible on it.... the one who insulted him should bear the responsible as well. he did admit and apologize abt wht he did in the final, one thg tht we couldnt denial tht is he is a very good soccer player, and he did performed well during the competition...

Thanks for the comment. I agree Zidane is a masterful player and had a fabulous career. He was magical in the Cup and I enjoyed watching him. However, he alone, as we all are, was responsible for his actions. Materazzi's comment was dispicable but unfortunately that is a part of sport. Zidane's reaction was sad and his red card truly hurt his team when they needed him most.

In this happening Mr. Zaidan was not the only guilty! there are two more guilties:
1. Reffery
2. Ittalian Player who say wrong
so both should be shown red card by the reffery.
this is only my comments on it.
Jamal Kjk

Well, Zidane's been my idol since 1998, but i just find it sad that for all his accomplishments, the one thing that people remember or would remember about him is that one final defect at the end of his career.
noone is perfect. what im trying to say is that maybe we should also try to remember the million things he's done for the sport as well, not just the 'headbutt'...

For me was a shocking way to end a such superb carrier.

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