It has now been almost 12 years since the 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France, a game that will always be remembered for Zinedine Zidane being sent off in his final appearance before retirement for head-butting Marco Materazzi after giving his side the lead from the penalty spot, leaving France with 10 men for the final 10 minutes of extra time. Italy would go on to win the World Cup in a penalty shoot-out.
Now, one of Zidane’s teammates on that day, Willy Sagnol, has suggested that it was one of his own side, Sylvain Wiltord, that alerted the referee to the fracas.
Wiltord the whistle-blower
During an interview with SFR Sport 1, Sagnol, who is currently in an undefined role at German champions Bayern Munich, explained that at the beginning of the passage of play that led to the incident, Claude Makalele had to the ball and passed to Wiltord, who controlled it but then stopped and pointed out to the referee that something was happening off the ball. Match official Horacio Elizondo went over to find Materazzi on the floor and after consulting with his linesman showed the France captain the red card.
“If Wiltord hadn’t stopped the referee would never have made the decision to halt play,” Sagnol said. Had the game continued, it is possible Zidane would not have been sent off and history could have been very different.