The lasting image many will have of Zinedine Zidane is of that infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi the 2006 World Cup final.
Not the stunning volley in the Champions League final in 2002. Or even his majestic panenka penalty against Gianluigi Buffon in that game in Germany a decade ago.
The headbutt is a moment the Frenchman has rarely reflected on. In fact, what he said after watching his Real Madrid side beat Wolfsburg in the Champions League on Tuesday might just make you wonder if he realises it ever happened.
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Zidane’s job was under serious scrutiny following the 2-0 defeat to the Bundesliga side in last week’s first leg. Failure to beat a team currently sitting eighth in the German league would have almost certainly seen him fired from the post he only took up in January.
Fortunately, a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick inspired a 3-2 aggregate win, sealing Madrid’s progression to the semi-finals for the sixth straight season.
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Zidane has proven to be one of the more emotional managers in football, regularly pacing up and down the touchline during Madrid matches.
But he knew he needed to remain calm on Tuesday. In the Santiago Bernabeu, with Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all on the pitch, Los Blancos were still in the contest.
Then came the comment that makes you wonder if Zidane knows he ever headbutted an opposing player in front of millions; an incident that led to a statue being created in Paris.
"There can be difficult moments, but you must be relaxed when that happens,” the 43-year-old said after the game, per ESPN FC.
“You should not go crazy, as anything can happen in football. I never lost my head as a player, and will never do so as a coach.”
Err, hold on a second. This isn’t losing your head?
Has anyone checked whether the headbutt left any lasting damage?
Tuesday was Zidane’s 100th day in charge of Madrid after he replaced Rafa Benitez. He’s guided the Spanish team to a Champions League semi-final and closed the gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona to just four points.
Not bad given that his only previous experience is as the manager of Madrid’s youth team.
"I am not naive"
The Ballon d’Or winner reflected on his spell in the hot seat, saying: “Being a coach is much, much more difficult [than being a player].
"I am not worried about what might happen, but focus on what we can do each day to improve.
“I am not naive, I know there will be difficult moments, we already had some. We just need to be able to manage them properly. That is what I try to do.
“I have a great group, wonderful staff with me. I just keep on learning and moving forward. I like what I do and that is the most important thing.”
Zidane is clearly of the idea that ignorance is bliss.
What is your lasting memory of Zinedine Zidane? Let us know in the comments section below!
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