Marco Materazzi has finally revealed what he said to Zinedine Zidane to spark the infamous 2006 World Cup final headbutt.
The shocking outburst of violence led to the France icon’s immediate sending off, and played a large role in France’s defeat on penalties to the Azzurri.
The comments exchanged between Zidane and the Italian centre-back have long been shrouded in secrecy, despite both players dropping occasional hints.
It was rumoured that the former Inter Milan player levelled an insult at Zidane’s mother Malika, but the former Real Madrid manager quashed the allegation in an interview with L’Equipe, saying that the provocation was regarding his sister.
‘He provoked me by talking about my sister Lila,’ Zidane admitted.
Zinedine Zidane shocked the world after he headbutted Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final in Germany
The comments which provoked Zizou in his last-ever match have until now remained a mystery
The sending-off saw Zidane become the second player ever to receive a red card in two separate World Cup competitions
‘I’m not proud of it, but it’s part of my career. At that time, I was more fragile. He didn’t insult my mother, but he did insult my sister.’
23 years after the incident, Materazzi was able to clarify what exactly he had said about the former World Cup winner’s sister.
Speaking to Italian Football TV, the 49-year-old shared: ‘You know the NBA? Trash talking – my trash talking nothing, very minimal, nothing.
‘He offered me his jersey, I say, “no, I prefer your sister”.’
Zidane – who became came a national hero after winning the 1998 home World Cup with France – had already made the decision to retire from football after the tournament, after previously coming out of international retirement to captain Raymond Domenech’s side.
Materazzi saw success with Inter Milan between 2001-2014, before retiring in 2017
Materazzi played a starring role in the final – first by conceding a penalty, then equalising, and then becoming embroiled in the history-making clash
Zidane had previously won the World Cup on home soil in 1998 as the campaign’s standout
During the match, he had scored an audacious Panenka penalty to put France ahead, but not only did his sending off bring an ignominious end to his career for Les Bleus, it kept him from participating in the ensuing penalty shoot-out after Materazzi scored Italy’s equaliser.
The red card also gave Zizou the dubious accolade of being the second player in history to receive red cards during two separate World Cup competitions.
Speaking after the event, in a widely-viewed solo interview televised on Canal Plus, the Juventus and Real Madrid legend apologised but said he ‘didn’t regret’ the action.
‘It was seen by two or three billion people on television and millions and millions of children were watching,’ the then-34-year-old said.
‘It was an inexcusable gesture and to them, and the people in education whose job it is to show children what they should and shouldn’t do, I want to apologise.’
He called Materazzi’s words ‘very hard’ to hear.
The Real Madrid manager shared his thoughts immediately after the final on French television
‘Coup de Tete’ – or headbutt – was briefly exhibited on Doha’s Corniche, but it quickly attracted criticism for idolatry and inciting violence
‘You hear them once and you try to move away. But then you hear them twice, and then a third time,’ said Zidane.
‘I am a man and some words are harder to hear than actions. I would rather have taken a blow to the face than hear that.’
The clash was immortalised not only across newspaper front pages around the world, but latterly in a five-metre bronze statue first exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2012.
The sculpture, described as ‘an ode to defeat’, currently stands in the Arab Museum in Doha.