Zinedine Zidane is undoubtedly part of the conversation when it comes to the never-ending debate over the greatest footballer of all time.
The Frenchman, who celebrates his 49th birthday on Wednesday, was an artist on the pitch who delivered in big games.
He netted two headers for France in the 1998 World Cup final and scored one of the greatest goals in history for Real Madrid in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen.
It’s a huge shame, though, that Zidane’s playing career will always be remembered for his final moment in professional football.
His headbutt on Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final is arguably the craziest moment in football history.
The images of Zidane walking past the World Cup trophy after ending his illustrious career in disgrace is one of football’s most iconic scenes.
What did Materazzi say to Zidane?
Following years of speculation over what was said during the altercation, Materazzi revealed all in 2020.
"Zidane's headbutt? I wasn't expecting it in that moment,” the former defender admitted. “I was lucky enough that the whole episode took me by surprise because if I had expected something like that to happen and had been ready for it, I'm sure both of us would have ended up being sent off.
"There had been a bit of contact between us in the area. He had scored France's goal in the first half and our coach (Marcello Lippi) told me to mark him. After that first brush between us, I apologised but he reacted badly," Materazzi recalled.
"The late tackles, altercations and exchanges continued until 110 minutes, when things reached a head.
“After the third clash, I frowned and he retorted: 'I'll give you my shirt later'. I replied that I'd rather have his sister than his shirt.”
Was Zidane's 2006 World Cup final penalty the best ever?
But let’s not forget that Zidane also scored arguably the most insane penalty of all time earlier in that unforgettable final.
The legendary midfielder became only the fourth player in history to score three World Cup final goals (after England’s Geoff Hurst and Brazil duo Vava and Pele) with a spot-kick that took balls of steel to execute.
Up against a prime Gianluigi Buffon, arguably the world’s best goalkeeper at the time, Zidane produced a truly audacious Panenka to put France 1-0 up.
Check it out here…
Having the audacity to even attempt a Panenka against Buffon in a World Cup final is mad enough, let alone the fact Zidane managed to pull it off.
Yes, the ball hit the crossbar before bouncing over the line but, if anything, that makes Zizou’s penalty even more legendary.
It’s ridiculous moments like this that cement Zidane’s status as a genuine all-time great.News Now - Sport News