This was supposed to be his swansong, his sign-off, his final defining moment. It started off being his defining moment, but the reasons changed after the headbutt. He had scored an audacious penalty, threatened a repeat of the 1998 final when Buffon saved his header from point black range in extra time. He bestrode the pitch like a colossus, along with Henry, and Malouda, who played his best game of the tournament. The previously impenetrable Italian defence kept being carved open Christmas turkey style by France, and Zidane looked like doing it again.
And then the red mist descended. What did Materazzi say to him? One hopes that he insulted his mother, father, children, spat on the tricolour, and called him an Algerian camel to boot. But hold on a second, even that isn't enough. When you hear the phrase "unprovoked attack", you automatically think of a street thug assaulting an innocent person going about their daily business. Today, Zidane was that thug, and his attack on Materazzi was an arrestable offence. If that incident had happened anywhere other than on that pitch, he'd have been clapped in the stocks by the German Polizei.
On the day, France deserved to win, but in the grand scheme of the World Cup, Italy deserved victory. But what was shaping up to be the best World Cup final since 1986, ended as a ruined final, and probably ruined the World Cup for me. The most anticlimactic day of my life. More than a billion people were watching that madness on television. If he wasn't already retiring, he'd have been banned for a long long time. I was kicking myself for not making it to the match in Berlin because of a paucity of media tickets, but afterwards, I was glad not to have been there. I'd have been too downcast.
The World Cup was incredible, but I fear Zidane's behaviour might have ruined it for me. Zidane has showed his madness in the past - suspended for a stamping incident in 1998, suspended for the final group game against Togo this year, after picking up two yellows. Jean Marie Le Pen must be thinking, "I told them not to let that Algerian racaille play for Les Bleus". But Zidane is fallible. Zidane is a mere mortal. If he wasn't fallible, he wouldn't be human - he'd be God. Alas, no man is God. Congratulations to Italy, but what happened on that pitch?