Italy defender Materazzi engaged in an antagonistic battle with Zidane that exploded into violence when the France midfielder headbutted him to the ground ten minutes before the end of extra time in the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin.
The pair had exchanged early goals as Materazzi canceled out Zidane’s seventh-minute opener just 12 minutes later. But the center-back had the last laugh after following Azzurri boss Marcello Lippi’s instructions to mark the French magician tightly, culminating in Zidane’s late red card. Materazzi then went on to convert one of the penalties that secured glory for Italy in the shoot-out.
“I did not expect it,” Materazzi admitted, discussing one of the most extraordinary World Cup incidents of all time during an online chat with former teammate Christian Vieri.
“I was lucky that it took me by surprise because if I had expected something like this and prepared for it, I’m sure that in the end we would both have been sent off.
“I got angry and he said that after the match he would give me his shirt. I replied that I would prefer his sister. I didn’t say anything wrong.
“I talked about his sister – not his mother, like I have read in some newspapers. My mother died while I was a teenager, so I would never insult this.”
Now coach of Real Madrid, Zidane retired from international football after the final and later claimed he would “rather die” than apologize to Materazzi, calling him “evil” and insisting that the insult had been directed at his mother, Malika, who was ill in hospital at the time.
Malika was later said to have called Materazzi “disgusting”, adding: “If what he said is true, I want his balls on a platter.”
Materazzi has previously been widely quoted as using the word “whore” during the altercation, but he believes that the three-time World Player of the Year was culpable for his own demise in the final.
“He scored in the first half and the coach asked me to mark him,” explained the former Inter Milan star.
“We competed in the penalty area several times. After our first skirmish, I apologized, but he reacted poorly.
“My words were stupid but did not deserve that reaction. In any neighborhood of Rome, Naples, Turin, Milan or Paris, I hear much more serious things.”