French striker Thierry Henry went down in the first few minutes, and for a while it looked as if he might have sustained a concussion. He was able to return a few minutes later and played like a demon.
Each team scored in the first 12 minutes, and the rest of the game was a series of near misses, and close call injuries.
At one point, French captain Zinedine Zidane was down, and it looked like he had injured his shoulder. Some cold numbing spray on it allowed him to remain in the game. Would that the injury had taken him out of the game.
The game ended in a tie, 1 to 1, so that two 15-minute overtime periods had to be played.
Zinedine Zidane, aka Zizou,is 34 years old. Known as "The Old Man", the charismatic star had come out of retirement to lead the French team in the World Cup. Widely lionized, it was expected that win or lose, his career would close in a blaze of glory. Instead, it will be remembered for an ugly, violent act that is the last of his career.
All that ended in minute 110 when the teams were walking down the field. I don't remember why the ball wasn't in play, maybe a player was down. But out of the clear blue, Zidane turned around and head-butted Italian player Marco Materazzi in the chest, knocking him down.
A hushed silence descended. Apparently, Referree Horacio Elizondo, who had been all over the action in this game, didn't see it happen. However, the Italian goalie, Gianluigi Buffon created a stir, and the ref conferred with his assistants. When he returned to the field, he presented Zidane with a red card. He was ousted from the game with ten minutes to go in the World Cup Final, which might have ended differently had he not acted so rashly.
No one scored in the last ten minutes, so the game was resolved in one-on-one (kicker vs. goalie) penalty kicks.
The Italians got all their penalty kicks in. On the french side, David Trezeguet, the second kicker drove the ball straight toward the goal, where it deflected of the crossbar. If the Italians had missed a kick and the French had gotten the rest of theirs the kicks would have continued.
No one knows if Zidane might have scored in the final ten minutes, or if he, a famed penalty kicker might have kicked in place of Trezeguet. Or if morale on both sides might have been different leading to a different outcome.
What no one knows is why Zidane, previously cool and collected would have put a black mark on an otherwise glorious career in this fashion.