Materazzi conscience clear on Zidane incident

Former Italy international Marco Materazzi said his conscience is clear, after his part in one of the most infamous World Cup moments.

Materazzi was head-butted to the chest by French legend Zinedine Zidane - in what proved to be the latter's final contribution on the football field as he was dismissed in extra-time of the 2006 final, before Italy were crowned champions on penalties.

The former Inter hero had already revealed the sledge that caused Zidane's reaction back in 2007, but he reinstated his disbelief at what unfolded.

"I was close enough to Zidane to stop him jumping. I put my arm around him and gave him a little tug, with my body on him. Pretty standard stuff; it happens hundreds of times a game," Materazzi told ESPN .

"I quickly apologised, but he kept saying, over and over again, that if I wanted his shirt so badly, I could have it after the game. He wouldn't stop. So I said that, instead of his shirt, I'd rather have his sister. That was it. That's all it was.

"Maybe it was the adrenaline; maybe it was the fatigue; maybe it was the occasion. But the next thing that happened was so difficult to understand. He walked towards me and, out of the blue, head-butted me in the chest.

"It was the last thing I expected. Had I anticipated it and raised my hands, odds are we would both have been sent off. I have no idea what went through his mind. I do know that my conscience is clear.

"What I said wasn't very nice perhaps, but it was no different from the trash talking that takes place at any level of football, from the schoolyard to, as we saw, the World Cup final. I'm sure he heard far worse many, many times."

Materazzi said he was affected by consequent reports that suggested he had insulted Zidane's mother or accused him of being a terrorist.

"Everybody speculated about what was said. The media put forth all sorts of theories, lip-readers were called in and accused me of saying horrible things alluding to his mother and to terrorism," the Italian said.

"Zidane himself never gave his side, though, sometime later, he did say my words had not been racist or terrorist-related. It allowed me to clear my name and I took legal action against those media outlets who had printed the worst rumours as facts.

"This was important to me, particularly the stuff about his mother. I may have said nasty things over my career, but I have never referred to anyone's mother. I lost my own when I was 15 years old and it's something I have always avoided."