Fabio Cannavaro reflects on Zinedine Zidane’s 2006 World Cup final headbutt

‘It was a good headbutt… goodbye and thank you’: Italy’s World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro reflects on Zinedine Zidane’s shock red card for headbutting Marco Materazzi in 2006 final

  • Zinedine Zidane saw red for a shocking headbutt on Marco Materazzi
  • Italy and France’s 2006 World Cup final had gone to extra time with score 1-1 
  • Fabio Cannavaro would go on to win that year’s Ballon d’Or for his performances 

It instantly became one of the most iconic images in World Cup history.

And Italy’s World Cup winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, has even admitted it was a ‘good headbutt’ that saw Zinedine Zidane see red in his final ever game.

With the game locked at 1-1 in extra time of the 2006 final in Berlin, the legendary French midfielder exchanged words with Marco Materazzi and then proceeded to floor him with a headbutt to the chest.

Fabio Cannavaro has recalled the moment Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the World Cup final

The centre-back claimed months after the final that he had said ‘I’d prefer your sister’ after Zidane had complained about his constant shirt-tugging, telling him: ‘If you want my shirt so much I’ll give it to you afterwards’.

Without their talismanic captain France went on to lose the shootout, handing Italy their fourth world crown. 

During an Instagram Live, Cannavaro admitted he didn’t even see the pivotal moment of the final.

He said: ‘I have to be honest, I only remember the noise. I was nearby I turned and I saw Marco on the ground.

‘I heard this noise and Marco said “he headbutted me”.

‘Was it sore? Beyond that, he did what he had to do. He threw himself on the ground. Goodbye and thank you. But it was a good headbutt.’

Former Italy captain Cannavaro has joked about what Andrea Pirlo was really like off the pitch

Former Italy captain Cannavaro has joked about what Andrea Pirlo was really like off the pitch

Pirlo and Cannavaro helped inspire Italy to glory as the beat France to win the 2006 World Cup

Pirlo and Cannavaro helped inspire Italy to glory as the beat France to win the 2006 World Cup

Cannavaro also opened up on the true personality of his countryman and fellow World Cup winner Andrea Pirlo.

Although both players featured for Inter Milan and Juventus during their careers, their paths never crossed at club level, though they were frequently colleagues on the international stage.  

The pair became good friends and Cannavaro has lifted the lid on what his team-mate, who is famed for his suave demeanour, is really like away from the field during an Instagram Live. 

Cannavaro said: ‘He’s a b****** – I’m allowed to say that.

Pirlo has become famous for his cool and collected demeanour on the football pitch

Pirlo has become famous for his cool and collected demeanour on the football pitch 

‘Andrea is really quick-witted and funny. He has plenty of jokes – he’s not a curmudgeon like it seems. He’s great company.’ 

The pair were driving forces behind Italy’s performances that inspired them to win the World Cup.

Pirlo dominated the midfield while Cannavaro went on to lift the Ballon d’Or thanks to his fantastic performances for club and country that year.

He still remains the only Italian defender to lift the prestigious trophy, as well as the last defender to win the trophy after Virgil Van Dijk most recently missed out to Lionel Messi.

Cannavaro is targeting a move back to Italy in the near future after coaching in China and Saudi Arabia since his retirement.’