On a partial vacation, I was almost in the heart of France when the final of the “Coupe de Monde” (which means “World Cup” in French) came down on July 9, 2006. I was in Montpellier, far far away from the heyday of Paris. Montpellier is a town in Southern France that is about 20 kilometers towards the Mediterranean.
France 2 covered the FIFA World Cup Final between France and Italy, and as the first minutes of the 1st period started, everything I saw on the soccer field was just simply steals and shots on goal that missed between both sides.
And then, I saw an Italian defensive soccer player trip over a French offensive soccer player right inside the penalty box of the French team’s side. I knew then that the referee would access a penalty shot to France, and I was right! And who would shoot it?
I recognized that face….Zinedine Zidane was picked to shoot the penalty shot. In Zidane’s way was Gianluigi Buffon, the goalkeeper of the Italian team. I had predicted that Buffon would make the save from that penalty shot, but I changed my mind quickly that Zidane’s penalty shot will blow by Buffon, and France would get the first score of the final. As I saw Zidane make his preparatory runs towards the ball and his resultant powerful kick, I saw Buffon dropping and falling forward to the right thinking that Zidane was going to shoot it towards the right side of the goal. When I heard the thud of the kick and saw the ball being launched….my prediction was right! Zidane kicked right but he elevated the shot a little too much and I saw that the ball hit the inside of the goal’s top post of the right side, and then, the ball bounced multiple times into the area past the white line inside the goal area. I knew the shot went in before all of those multiple bounces happened and then I heard a sound I never have heard in the United States…French apartment neighbors cheering on Zidane’s successful penalty shot goal. I heard it right through the walls…I think this was because they are having a few outdoor patio parties outside watching the World Cup Final as well.
Now I knew that France was destined to get the World Cup, which I did not want to see. France led 1-0.
In the 2nd period, I knew that Italy would get the equalizer. They did in the 19th minute, Italy’s Andrea Pirlo did a corner kick to Marco Materazzi, who finished that ball off with a header shot re-direct that blasted by French goalie Fabien Barthez. The shot went very fast and I almost did not see it go in, but when I did, I fell to the floor in elation because I was happy that Italy finally got the goal of their own after facing a nightmare thanks, of course, to the Zidane penalty-shot goal in the 1st period.
Sources Used (Websites):
Marco Materazzi Goal World Cup 2006
World Cup 2006 Final – Italy 6: 4 France
Zidane Penalty Goal, France-Italy Final Match