Well that was fucking weird…

Who the hell saw that coming? Leading up to the game, the media’s lovefest with Zinedine Zidane was in full swing. When does a departing player, one of the best in the history of the game, ever get to distinguish himself on the field of play at the highest possible level in their final game of their career, they asked. What magic would Zizou weave in Berlin? Is there any other player in this 2006 World Cup that rose to the occasion and bore the mantle of a true captain and champion more than Zidane? In truth, yes. The entire Italian team.

Let it be known that the Rebuilding Year team was rooting for Les Bleus. And we’d love to know exactly what Materazzi said to Zidane to provoke him like that. But there is a point where, if you are going to be a true captain and if you’re trying to win the most coveted championship in all of sports, you might not want to go Bam Bam Bigelow on a guy in the 80th minute of a 1-1 game, especially when you’re two best teammates (Henry and Vierra) have been subbed out and your goalie is a permeable membrane of a man. If Zidane was available for penalty kicks, considering his execution throughout this World Cup and throughout his career, you have to think that France would have had a puncher’s chance against Italy. Without Zidane, you had to hope they would be able to score a goal against a tired Italian defense because there was no way that Barthez was going to be able to hold down the fort against the Italians.

It was really a shame to see Zidane go out like that.  Henry will be back. So will Vierra. Ribery looks to be primed for a few runs. However, Zizou will not be walking through that door in four years and he chose how he would leave the game he loved. Everyone said he got to write his own story and, when it came down to 80 minutes of hard-fought soccer, the demi-captain proved that he is only a man.

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