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William Gallas Exclusive: 2006 World Cup Final Defeat Was Hard

Former France international defender William Gallas reveals how difficult it was to accept defeat in the World Cup final in 2006. Les Bleus faced off against Italy in the final in Berlin and took an early lead, with Zinedine Zidane scoring from the spot, but Marco Materazzi equalised and the game was forced into extra time. In the additional period, Zidane - now infamously - responded to provocation by Materazzi and headbutted the Italy defender in the chest, resulting in his dismissal. France would go on to lose the eventual penalty shootout and Gallas - who started alongside Lilian Thuram that night - does not remember the occasion fondly.


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Hard To Take

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “The final was hard, especially after what happened to us when Zidane did what he did. 

“It was very difficult to accept it, to be honest. We were so close. 

“We knew we were strong, but we also knew that against Italy, there is always a problem for France. We wanted to play Germany because against Italy, something always happens.

“Unfortunately, what happened, happened. It was really hard. You could say that if Zidane doesn’t get sent off the result is the same anyway, France lose on penalties, but we will never know. 

“I think the result could have been different. Zidane wouldn’t have missed a penalty, perhaps with him on the pitch we would have scored before penalties. 

“With 11 versus 11, we would have had more opportunities because the Italian team was tired. Unfortunately, Zinedine was not there.

“Even after he was sent off, playing in a final with 10 players, Italy didn’t create any chances. That is why we were so frustrated - all the players.

“When I went back to the dressing room, I was down. All of the players were down. 

“All I could think about was what happened and why we didn’t win the match. Why didn’t we score more goals? Why did we concede the goal in the way we did? Could we have been better? I didn’t think about what Zinedine did.

“All I can remember about him, was when he apologised to all of the players in the dressing room. I’m sure that many players were upset about what he did, but in the dressing room, straight after the whistle, you don’t think about these things because the emotion is too raw. 

“You’ve just lost a final. You’re thinking about a lot of things and you realise little by little what happened and what Zidane did.

“For me, I didn’t really process what he did until I was back in France with my family and friends. All the people around me were saying that if Zidane didn’t do what he did, we would have been world champions. 

“You then start to think about it and slowly you think that if Zidane had stayed on the field, we would have had the opportunity to win. 

“Right after the game, in the dressing room, I was only thinking about the match. 

“Some players were mad because for most of us, it was the best chance to bring back the trophy to France and to become world champions, to understand the feeling of being a world champion. 

“It is a feeling that I don’t know and, to get so close and for it not to happen, that is something that is very hard.”

 

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