The Zizou code

When Zinedine Zidane (Zizou) was young, his family was proud of his beautiful curls. As he grew up, the French football legend got a bit thin on top when he led Les Bleus to a win over Brazil at the 1998 World Cup final. Zizou appeared at this year's World Cup with a bald head. He has achieved fame worldwide but his hair has fallen off.

Zizou's bald head has achieved something. Les Bleus eliminated South American giant Brazil in 1998 with two head goals from Zizou. But his headbutt of Italy's Marco Materazzi was unexpected. Almost everybody knows that the 32-year-old Inter Milan striker must have insulted the French veteran, otherwise, why would steady Zizou lose his temper and head-butt Materazzi to the ground like an enraged Spanish bull?

Like many others, I have had a strange feeling since the World Cup opened in early June, and the final match between France and Italy was very unpredictable, particularly with straight Zizou's sudden headbutt to the 1.93-meter Italian striker.

I personally hold that there must have been a special kind of power supporting Zizou, and it was this power that drove him insane and caused him to head-butt Materazzi to the ground.

Many people looked on triumphantly and said they had predicted Italy would lift the World Cup trophy. They talked utter nonsense. Frankly, I have never had respect for France but I must confess that Les Bleus are no longer the unbeatable football team they were in the 1990s.

Zizou, what's the matter with you? What did Materazzi say to you that caused you to lose your mind and be sent off with a red card? If Zizou had not been sent off, Les Bleus would have lifted the World Cup Trophy.

After watching the World Cup, many people felt sentimental. Zizou ended his memorable career infamously. Many other players of his age, such as Figo and Khan, have also walked off the football pitch. Perhaps years to come, their names and achievements will have faded from memory, but the 2006 World Cup final will be remembered more for a headbutt than the fact Italy that won the world's most highly sort after sporting prize for the fourth time.

Decoding the "Zizou code" should be the right of Zizou's fans. It is understandable that Zizou got a red card, but his action must have been provoked by the Italian player's insults.

Everyone believes that Zizou was the brightest star at the World Cup. His superb performance and perfect skills have paled other players into insignificance. Zizou was never insolent. But a provoked headbutt at World Cup final has brought down an honest man.

The month-long war of the World Cup in Germany has ended. It strikes the world as moving and tragic, meaningful and thought provoking.

Zizou stayed inside the locker room at the end of the match because he did not want to watch the final penalty shootout. For him, it is now all in the past. Casting aside hardship and throwing away right and wrong, Zizou will focus on the light after the dark.

By People's Daily Online

People's Daily Online ---