Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sick To The Stomach

I was really looking forward to the World Cup Final this evening. Zinedine Zidane had proved at this World Cup his genuine quality, and kept a place for himself as one of the all-time great footballers. He may have lacked a yard of pace, but his vision for the game and his unsurpassed touch were a delight for any fan of the beautiful game.

He should have secured his legacy tonight. The World Cup Final - in what was his last game - was the perfect stage for a man of his talent to bow out. Instead, he decided to waste his legacy in a fit of pique, headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest during extra-time. Following his inevitable sending-off, he left the French team to be ignominiously defeated on penalties.

I feel sick to the stomach now. If France had been defeated by a better Italy side, it would have been alright. They weren't; France were by far the most inventive side, and had Ribery had better positional sense (a harsher critic might say all-round ability) then they would surely have won. But for France to have lost due to a moment of pure selfishness from Zidane feels, well, it feels like he's headbutted me in the chest.

Tonight should have been the crowning glory of one of football's greats. Instead, Zidane has secured a far less appealing legacy. One whose temper got the better of him; one who sacrificed the team to the self. Despite the fact that all through his career his greatest skill was making the players around him better. A football match that ends in penalties is always a let-down. One that sees the disgrace of a legend is far, far worse.