As one of only two World Cup final goalscorers to play in the Premier League, Marco Materazzi has gone down in history – but not just for that.
His physical style of defending is almost a forgotten art and Materazzi could easily be considered the last of a dying breed, although it is probably safe to say that his opponents will not miss him.
As everyone knows, the Italian was on the receiving end of Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final, but to only remember Materazzi for that and not his glittering club career would be doing him a huge injustice.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the Lecce-born defender as he attempted to make it to the top tiers of football; he found himself plying his trade in Serie C before signing for Serie B side Perugia at the age of 22. Materazzi was able to break into the second division side, but was sent out on loan to Carpi in the league below during the 1996/97 season before heading to England to sign with Everton.
His spell at the blue half of Liverpool lasted just 33 games though, during which time he was handed three red cards and conceded a penalty in the Merseyside Derby to top off a miserable season. Materazzi returned to Perugia looking for a new lease of life, and was given just that as he became a regular for his side, now in Serie A, and even scored 12 goals in the 2000/01 campaign – the most ever by a defender in the top Italian league.
The business end of the season saw Giovanni Trapattoni hand Materazzi his Italy debut, a 1-0 win over South Africa in the first of 41 caps for his country, and just a couple of months later, Inter had a €10 million bid accepted for the 28-year-old. His first season saw him form a solid partnership with Ivan Cordoba and secure Champions League football for the first time in his career, but the Milan side missed out on the scudetto after losing 4-2 at Lazio on the final day of the season.
Matrix won his first league title in 2006, albeit by default after Juventus were stripped of it for their part in the Italian football scandal, which marked the start of a glorious summer for him as he helped Italy to a first World Cup crown in 24 years. Materazzi was the Azzurri’s joint-top scorer with two goals, including the equaliser in the final, and conceded just one goal in the four games he played in. After being headbutted in the chest by Zidane during the final, he went on to score his penalty in the shootout.
Inter and Materazzi secured four consecutive Serie A titles after that, with 2006/07 season particularly encapsulating the kind of player he was: in the 39 games he played that campaign, Materazzi found the net 10 times, was booked on 17 occasions, and had one red card to his name as Inter lost just one league game all season. However just two seasons later, injuries meant he fell out of favour and he played just 31 league games in his final three terms before leaving Inter in 2011 at the age of 37.
Materazzi was as good as retired until 2014 when, at 41 years old, India came calling and he was named as the player-manager of Chennaiyin FC for the country’s inaugural Super League season.
Playing alongside names such as Alessandro Nesta, Eric Djemba-Djemba and Elano, his side finished top of the league in the regular season but crashed out in the semi-finals of the playoffs to Iain Hume-led Kerala Blasters – with Materazzi missing a penalty and getting sent off in the second leg.
The next campaign saw the Italian move to a purely managerial role, and it worked as Chennaiyin finished third in the regular season before winning the Super League final after two injury time goals gave them a 3-2 victory over Goa. However their joy was shortlived as Chennaiyin failed to make the playoffs in the 2016 season, causing manager and club to part by mutual consent.