I have always regarded football as more than just a sport. Football is about entertainment and like every good village pantomine football has always had its fair share of heroes and villains. One player though has managed to blur the line between good and bad, talented and violent, smart and crazy, helpful and harmful. His name is Marco Materazzi and about a year ago he was far from a household name despite being involved in more controversial incidents than the average Kennedy cousin since his pro career began about 15 years ago.
The name Materazzi even now may not mean a lot to people around the world but if you add the words, “Italy,” “headbutt” and “World cup final” to the equation then most people will immediately recall a tall dark haired clown who conceded a penalty, scored an equaliser and then induced the worlds best player to headbutt him all within the confines of one game on live TV just less than a year ago. For those of us familiar with Marco or “The Matrix” as his team mates call him, his World Cup final antics were not a huge surprise.
Marco had one season at Everton which consisted of goals, own goals, conceding penalties and most famously of all an unprovoked attack on an advertising hoarding. Coventry City striker Darren Huckerby decided to take a dive that Matt Biondi would have been proud of and the ref decided to red card Materazzi by assuming his guilt based upon his past crimes rather than asking the linesman who had clearly seen that no contact was made. Being a reasonable kind of guy Marco decided that to display his mild annoyance at the red card he would first refuse to leave the field for a few minutes, then kick the crap out of the adverts surrounding the field and finally for his grand finale he would sit and weep hysterically on the touchline for the remainder of the game. Poor old Everton boos Walter Smith had to explain to the media afterwards that his $3million pound defender was “not of right mind” to play another game for the club. Wacko-razzi was sent back to Italy and after a brief spell at Perugia he came to fame again for using his elbow to poleaxe Juan Pablo Sorin in the Champions League. He also had a major tunnel bust up which caused Cirillo to get two black eyes and to make sure he stayed in the headlines he also scored 12 goals which was a record for a defender. That is the thing with Marco he is always in the headlines for good or bad.
The World cup was all about Materazzi. A goal against the Czechs, a red card against Australia and then the in the last game the finest display on attention seeking insanity seen since Nero decided to burn down Rome . Anyway the reason I mention all of this is because today Inter Milan secured their first Italian title since 1989. They were awarded the title last year but only long after the season had ended and because all of the teams above them were docked points or relegated for match fixing so that one doesn’t really count. They needed a win today against Sienna to seal the deal and on cue Marco Materazzi decided his name had been out of the headlines just long enough to warrant a big game and so he scored both their goals in a 2-1 win. You may love this guy or hate him or you may variously think he is a gift from God or a curse from hell depending on his last involvement in any particular game but you have got to hand it to the lad that he is one hell of an entertainer.