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Germany 2006

Cannavaro: I heard Zidane's headbutt

  • ​Cannavaro got emotional as he watched Germany 2006 with FIFA TV
  • He discussed Zidane’s headbutt and the shootout with France
  • And revealed the tackle he believes won him the adidas Golden Ball

The 2006 FIFA World Cup™ was an emotional rollercoaster for Italy, which was packed with tension and ended in ecstasy. They had to play at a numerical disadvantage in two matches, due to Daniele De Rossi and Marco Materazzi seeing red. They scored with virtually the last kick – in the 91st and 121st minutes – in the Round of 16 and semi-finals. They came from behind in the Final and had the drama of Zinedine Zidane being sent off in a dramatic 120 minutes at the Olympiastadion. And then, despite having lost all three of their previous World Cup shootouts – to Argentina in 1990, Brazil in 1994 and France in 1998 – they beat Les Bleus on penalties to lift the Trophy.

Fabio Cannavaro's memories of Germany 2006 are not only intact – they pack a greater emotional punch than ever, as discovered when we sat down with the Il Capitano to show him footage of the key moments from Italy’s campaign.

“I’m even more emotional as I watch these images now than what I was then,” said Cannavaro as he watched his thudding dispossession of Germany’s Lukas Podolski in the last four, which led to Alessandro Del Piero’s superb goal.

“I guess this tackle I did on Podolski is what made me win the [FIFA World Player of the Year award]. Because it was an extraordinary game, played at such a high level with interventions that, when I see them, I ask myself: ‘Was that me really doing it?’ It’s an image that will remain in football history. It was a beautiful goal, scored against a German team playing at home. It’s what made us go to Berlin.”

There, an infamous incident unfolded between Marco Materazzi and Zinedine Zidane.

“I heard it,” recalled Cannavaro. “I was five metres ahead and heard that noise. I turned around and Marco was on the floor. I asked Gigi [Buffon] – because he was the only one who saw it – ‘What happened?’ And he says, ‘Fabio, he hit him with an incredible headbutt!’

“’A headbutt? How’s that possible?’ Because Materazzi is over 1.90m tall. So it hit him on the chest. If it had been me, it would have been straight at my face because I’m a little shorter!”

“I consider Zidane to be an amazing player who has written football history. However, in this case, he was wrong.

The Final went to penalties, where Fabio Grosso stepped up with the chance to win it for Italy.

“I told you: I get more emotional now, as I watch this, than I did when I was on the pitch,” explained Cannavaro. “And even now, every time I watch Fabio take that penalty kick, I think to myself, ‘I hope he doesn’t miss it’. (chuckles). These are moments that change the story of a game, a World Cup and life.”

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