Zinedine Zidane, Zizou, “El Mago” (the magician), a Galáctico, the legend that made his debut in Juventus and then took Real Madrid to the very top in the team’s golden era. For soccer fans in particular, his name might bring to mind his countless accomplishments, but for most people, it will always be associated with the incident he had with the Italian Marco Materazzi in his last game as a player. Learn more about the Frenchman's last team.
Zidane’s blue in the face retirement
Zinedine Zidane had been hinting at a retirement for years. In 2004, he had announced his retirement but, in the end, he changed his mind. It was 2 years later, in 2006, that he took the final decision, after having a bad season plagued with injuries. The stage would be the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Everything was set for him to retire as a superstar. He was the French national team’s superstar and had won the World Player of the Year award three times. Find more about the now-coach.
France’s performance in the 2006 World Cup had been brilliant. They got to the semifinals match against Italy. All eyes were set on Zidane. A few minutes after the game started, Zidane scored a Panenka style penalty that gave France its first goal. This expertise was what everyone was expecting for the Frenchman’s final match.
However, the cheering came to a halt when the Italian player Marco Materazzi scored an equalizer header goal. Not all hope was lost, the game went into extra time and there was a huge chance that Zidane would give ‘Les Bleus’ their desired victory.
At that point, Materazzi started to pick on Zidane. Enraged by the Italian’s attitude, he responded by hitting him with the infamous headbutt so many people remember him by. Of course, this awarded Zidane a red card so he was expelled from the match in his final performance.
In the end, the cup went to Italy. France lost on penalty kicks, leaving a bitter taste in Zidane and also in the French fans.
A new chance
Thankfully, Zidane did not let that dark moment stop him.
After his retirement, he started to build his career as a coach and, in 2016 he came back to Real Madrid, now as its trainer.
His second retirement came in early 2021, when Carlo Ancelotti took over.