Zinedine Zidane sure went out with a bang. The French soccer legend’s last act as a professional soccer player was headbutting Marco Materazzi in front of a worldwide audience.
That unforgettable moment has been immortalized in the form of a bronze statue, which was unveiled at Paris’ Centre Pompidou modern art museum, the Associated Press reports.
The 5-meter (more than 16 feet) bronze statue is an exact replica of that fateful moment, which came on July 9, 2006. Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed expertly captured both Zidane’s rage and Materazzi’s fear in the piece.
In the 110th minute of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, Zidane was walking away from the Italy goal when he suddenly turned and drove his head into Materazzi’s chest. The Italian defender shrieked and fell to the ground.
The referee missed this off-the-ball incident, but one of his assistants brought the headbutt to his attention. Zidane was sent off, turning what could have been his final (and perhaps finest) triumph into a national tragedy.
The tie game was eventually decided by penalty shootout, which Italy won 5-3.
Zidane later said he headbutted Materazzi in response to insults, but exactly what was said has never been revealed.
The French may never be able to answer the question, “Porquoi, Zizou?” But at least they can stand before the statue and discuss Zidane’s vulnerable emotional state for hours on end.