Bedlam in Berlin!

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World Cup 2006: the final
How joyous to watch a World Cup final in which you’d be happy for either team to win. Which is not to say I didn’t have my favourite. I love Italy. I love the Mediterranean way of life – the appreciation of fresh food and the way they make an event out of mealtime. I love the city of Rome. I have enjoyed watching Italy play, against a background of angst and uncertainty back home, and I’m glad they made the final. I love France. I love the French way of life – the love of fresh food and the egalitarian nature of cafe culture, where all classes are united by a cup of coffee, a glass of beer and a pastry. I love the city of Paris. And the French team have supplied such thrills, with their dizzying average age of 83, and the likelihood that Zidane would have to go off for a nice sit down with a blanket over his legs at any moment. (I wrote that before the match.) So I supported France. The tracking arial shot of the Olympic stadium in Berlin took the breath away, the evening sky grew more and more dramatic in maroon and pink, and the BBC even gave us a poem, I think read by Adrian Chiles, as if the venue itself could speak. You wouldn’t get that on ITV1. To the game …

Italy 1 France 1 (5-3 on penalties)
Such a great start, with Zidane making his mark from the penalty spot after a daft foul on Malouda by Materazzi and taking France one up in the 6th minute. Imperfect-looking goal it may have been, hitting the bar and bouncing in and out, but still, 1-0, that’s not how World Cup finals are supposed to start. Italy’s equaliser was far more of an exhibition shot, with an operatic corner from Pirlo (surely pronounced Peer-lo, not Per-lo, commentators?), headed in by … Materazzi, thus wiping his slate clean. This was all in the first 20 minutes. Both teams held fast until half-time. No sign of the creaking of French knees when they returned, invigorated by a pep talk from Paul O’Grady, and with Henry notably full of zip. At this point, you thought, it could go either way. When Vieira went off, hamstring-pulled, in the 56th, a little of France’s magic went with him. If thoughts were turning to penalties at this stage, you’d have to have been thinking: one down. An offside goal by Toni was disallowed – it was a bit of a scramble, but the replays confirmed it as such. Italy certainly seemed full of detemination, but once into extra time, it was clear they were going to be happy with a shootout and pulled everyone back into defence. The best chances came from France: one, shot wide, from Ribery (slightly under-par tonight), just before he was taken off (hmmmm – another penalty shooter out of the mix), the second from Zidane, whose header off a Sagnol cross was nicely done, but too central and pawed out by Buffon. Henry, suffering from cramp, came off for the doughty Wilford – another penalty-talker off the list. At least Zidane was clearly being played until the bitter end by Domenech.

And then, this …

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“The world of football is very sad,” concluded Leonardo. Indeed. In minute 109, the World Cup final fell through a hole in time and space, and Zidane, apparently verbally goaded by Materazzi, ran ahead of him, turned round and headbutted him to the floor in his chest. It was one of those sights that actually got worse each time they replayed it. Zidane, at the end of his career, was correctly red-carded and sent to sit in the dressing room, alone, presumably in deep and miserable contemplation of his insane red-mist moment. What the hell was he thinking? I’ve seen enough films about detectives who do one last case on the day of their retirement, and they always get their man, with dignity. Zidane has not seen these films. I hope the post-match cigarette gave him some respite. The French fans, who can’t have seen what happened, booed ref Horatio Elizondo. Not their fault.

Thus were France sapped, by injury, judgement or self-harm, of Vieira, Henry, Ribery and Z*d*n* at penalty o’clock. The French fans – of which I was no longer one (hey, that’s the beauty of being a fairweather friend) – must have prayed for Barthez to save their souls. It couldn’t happen. Italy erased previous penalty nightmares (hey, I’m talking like a pundit now) by scoring five out of five, while Trezeguet hit the bar.

Italy were worthy winners, and I loved the abandon of their celebrations – the way Gatusso took his shorts off, the way they kissed and buffed up the trophy, the fact that some of them were still wearing comedy hats and flags tied round their heads like old women when they lined up for their medals. You had to feel for France, who overcame the perception that they were past their prime and made it this far, only to be defeated by a series of unfortunate events (and one fucking stupid one), when it came to the crunch.

It was Motson who yelped, “Bedlam in Berlin!” after the Zidane moment. I just liked the way he yelped it.

26 thoughts on “Bedlam in Berlin!

  1. Ah. I’ve rescued the comments.———Ill man wrote:It’s not like a bit of goading between players is unusual. It has to have been something fairly unpleasant to get that kind of reaction. Sad way to end your international career. ———Simon wrote:I don’t think the World Cup Final should be decided on penalties, after extra-time it should go into ‘golden goal open-ended time’, simply first team to score wins. They could still be playing, but why not, there’s no more matches for weeks. ———Paul wrote:My brother and I were big followers of Italian football on Channel 4 and in particular Zidane during his time at Juventus. He was our figure of affection where we could both lovingly admire (his skills and ball control) and ridicule (the copious amounts of sweat that dripped off his chin) at the same time. So about five or six years ago, when Zidane was sent off for a bizarre headbutt in a league match, his second red card in the space of a few games, we took great fondness out of his moment of madness, immitating it playfully and referring back to it to this very day.When we were talking about the game earlier on today, we eventually got round to predictions. My brother thought it would be settled before penalties, I joked about it being settled by a controversial moment – like a Zidane headbutt!Should have put a bet on it… ———Hank wrote:Can’t remember the context but at one point Mark Lawrenson said something to John Motson along the lines of “it’s as empty as your living room”. Now, was he referring to a cash draining drug problem we don’t know about, a love for minimalist chic or something else in entirely?

  2. Ah. I’ve rescued the comments.———Ill man wrote:It’s not like a bit of goading between players is unusual. It has to have been something fairly unpleasant to get that kind of reaction. Sad way to end your international career. ———Simon wrote:I don’t think the World Cup Final should be decided on penalties, after extra-time it should go into ‘golden goal open-ended time’, simply first team to score wins. They could still be playing, but why not, there’s no more matches for weeks. ———Paul wrote:My brother and I were big followers of Italian football on Channel 4 and in particular Zidane during his time at Juventus. He was our figure of affection where we could both lovingly admire (his skills and ball control) and ridicule (the copious amounts of sweat that dripped off his chin) at the same time. So about five or six years ago, when Zidane was sent off for a bizarre headbutt in a league match, his second red card in the space of a few games, we took great fondness out of his moment of madness, immitating it playfully and referring back to it to this very day.When we were talking about the game earlier on today, we eventually got round to predictions. My brother thought it would be settled before penalties, I joked about it being settled by a controversial moment – like a Zidane headbutt!Should have put a bet on it… ———Hank wrote:Can’t remember the context but at one point Mark Lawrenson said something to John Motson along the lines of “it’s as empty as your living room”. Now, was he referring to a cash draining drug problem we don’t know about, a love for minimalist chic or something else in entirely?

  3. Zidane’s always had that in his pysche. It’s the main talking point but it didn’t really have a grand baring on the outcome of the match, did it?I felt sorry for Henrik Larsson ending his international career with a penalty miss but Zizou ended his in greater ignonimy.I only hope the Africans learn how to defend properly for the main event in 4 years time, their attack-mindedness was refreshing compared to these Europeans and their stuffy defences.

  4. Zidane’s always had that in his pysche. It’s the main talking point but it didn’t really have a grand baring on the outcome of the match, did it?I felt sorry for Henrik Larsson ending his international career with a penalty miss but Zizou ended his in greater ignonimy.I only hope the Africans learn how to defend properly for the main event in 4 years time, their attack-mindedness was refreshing compared to these Europeans and their stuffy defences.

  5. I quite enjoyed Kate and Leopold on the other channel. There was a choice of 2 films featuring Meg Ryan on as alternatives to the footie. Stereotyping? Perhaps.

  6. I quite enjoyed Kate and Leopold on the other channel. There was a choice of 2 films featuring Meg Ryan on as alternatives to the footie. Stereotyping? Perhaps.

  7. Still can’t believe that Essien didn’t make the Squad of the Tournament. I thought Cannavaro was the best player even before ZZ’s moment of madness. It was the sentimental vote.What do we all do now? Love Island anyone?

  8. Still can’t believe that Essien didn’t make the Squad of the Tournament. I thought Cannavaro was the best player even before ZZ’s moment of madness. It was the sentimental vote.What do we all do now? Love Island anyone?

  9. Can I just say thanks to you Andrew for your posts on the World Cup. I would always log on while getting ready in the morning, and it has been a source of much entertainment.Many thanks.Ian

  10. Can I just say thanks to you Andrew for your posts on the World Cup. I would always log on while getting ready in the morning, and it has been a source of much entertainment.Many thanks.Ian

  11. For some daft reason only players who made the quarters were eligible for the FIFA squad. I’ve heard that Marco Matterazzi said something about ZZ’s mother who happens to be terminally ill. Knowing what the Matrix was like at Everton (3 reds in 25 odd games) he was probably winding him up all night and that was the straw that broke Ram-man’s back.I second what Paul says (sort of) about the joy of watching Zizou lighting up those tight Sierre A games with his geometrically perfect slide rule passes. Starting to feel old when the players who I remember making international debuts when I first started geeting into football finish their careers.Apprently Sophie Ellis-Bextor suffered a similar fate in the French hotel room. It was murder on Zidane’s floor.

  12. For some daft reason only players who made the quarters were eligible for the FIFA squad. I’ve heard that Marco Matterazzi said something about ZZ’s mother who happens to be terminally ill. Knowing what the Matrix was like at Everton (3 reds in 25 odd games) he was probably winding him up all night and that was the straw that broke Ram-man’s back.I second what Paul says (sort of) about the joy of watching Zizou lighting up those tight Sierre A games with his geometrically perfect slide rule passes. Starting to feel old when the players who I remember making international debuts when I first started geeting into football finish their careers.Apprently Sophie Ellis-Bextor suffered a similar fate in the French hotel room. It was murder on Zidane’s floor.

  13. Shame about Zidane but the sight of Materazzi going down like that is some compensation. My theory was that he said something about being him bald and past it, which would have made Zidane’s response typically stylish.Yes, thanks and well done Andrew.

  14. Shame about Zidane but the sight of Materazzi going down like that is some compensation. My theory was that he said something about being him bald and past it, which would have made Zidane’s response typically stylish.Yes, thanks and well done Andrew.

  15. What a disappointing, dispiriting and hollow feeling Sunday evenings World Cup final left me with. Nothing against Italy, although after a good first half, virtually all their attacking verve vanished into the Berlin night. No, the real misery was the shameful behaviour of Zinedine Zidane; It was one of the ugliest, most brutal things I’ve ever seen on a football pitch, barbaric thugishness made somehow worse, when it’s perpetrator has been the instigator of some of the most beautiful football I’ve seen.And yet today, Zidane is given a hero’s reception upon his return to France, how different from the response to David Beckham following his sending off for a very minor moment of stupidity against Argentina 8 years ago. Obviously the comparative contributions of these two players to their national teams and football in general were wildly different at the time of their misdemeanours.Beckham was at the start of a career, which would hopefully lead England to a new level of success on the world stage. As we now know, that promise has never come to full fruition, Zidane was at the other end of the spectrum, having achieved everything any player could wish for on a personal, club and international level. So I assume the praise was for past glories, whilst the hatred for Beckham was caused by the frustration of under achievement when the carrot of success had been briefly dangled under English noses.Interesting that the French president should praise him for displaying “the greatest human qualities”, whilst failing to mention the inhuman ones he showed on Sunday evening. It was a sickening, shuddering act of brutality, repulsive in it’s vitriolic hatred. The beautiful game lost much of its charm through his selfish act.

  16. What a disappointing, dispiriting and hollow feeling Sunday evenings World Cup final left me with. Nothing against Italy, although after a good first half, virtually all their attacking verve vanished into the Berlin night. No, the real misery was the shameful behaviour of Zinedine Zidane; It was one of the ugliest, most brutal things I’ve ever seen on a football pitch, barbaric thugishness made somehow worse, when it’s perpetrator has been the instigator of some of the most beautiful football I’ve seen.And yet today, Zidane is given a hero’s reception upon his return to France, how different from the response to David Beckham following his sending off for a very minor moment of stupidity against Argentina 8 years ago. Obviously the comparative contributions of these two players to their national teams and football in general were wildly different at the time of their misdemeanours.Beckham was at the start of a career, which would hopefully lead England to a new level of success on the world stage. As we now know, that promise has never come to full fruition, Zidane was at the other end of the spectrum, having achieved everything any player could wish for on a personal, club and international level. So I assume the praise was for past glories, whilst the hatred for Beckham was caused by the frustration of under achievement when the carrot of success had been briefly dangled under English noses.Interesting that the French president should praise him for displaying “the greatest human qualities”, whilst failing to mention the inhuman ones he showed on Sunday evening. It was a sickening, shuddering act of brutality, repulsive in it’s vitriolic hatred. The beautiful game lost much of its charm through his selfish act.

  17. Totally independently of you, we both reckoned he looked like Paul O’Grady as well, so I’m glad you said that.Shame the football’s over. Shame Toni had his hair cut.

  18. Totally independently of you, we both reckoned he looked like Paul O’Grady as well, so I’m glad you said that.Shame the football’s over. Shame Toni had his hair cut.

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