Mad Materazzi's at it again

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Marco Materazzi just cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Bother follows him around like a bad smell.

He has been called – with some justification – the dirtiest player in Italian football since the days of Pasquale Bruno back in the early-r’90s.

Plenty of opponents' bodies can testify to the power of those size 11s or of that huge flailing arm: Filippo Inzaghi’s head, Pablo Sorin’s face, Andriy Shevchenko’s left testicle.

The man they call The Matrix doesn’t even need to be on the pitch to mete out some sort of retribution as his former Inter team-mate Bruno Cirillo found out when Mad Marco lamped him in the tunnel at the San Siro.

And he was at it again on Wednesday in a feisty Italian Cup semi-final at Lazio when Goran Pandev became the latest victim.

Even by the big man’s standards of decorum, this was a pretty ruthless assault: the way he scythed the striker down with such bone-crushing brutality you felt that poor Pandev’s foot was going to fly off into the stands.

It was a short yet eventful evening for Materazzi who had only been on the pitch 15 minutes as Inter looked to maintain their 1-0 advantage. In that time, however, he managed to upset most of the opposition and engage in a running war of words with the home bench, not to mention pout menacingly at the referee.

His defence? “Pandev insulted me so I couldn’t really let it go.”

It’s no wonder the Inter fans sing: “Tutto pazzi per Materazzi” (All mad for Materazzi).

The lanky hitman will now miss a return to the gladiatorial arena of the Olimpico for the final against AS Roma as he sits out yet another suspension and contemplates finding a spare piece of skin for another tattoo.

The weird thing is that away from the pitch and out of kicking range, he’s not a bad fella at all. Once upon hearing a group of English voices struggling over the menu in a Milan restaurant, he sent over a bottle of champagne.

Unfortunately they were ordering pizza but that sort of sums up Marco’s sense of timing anyway.