On the 9th July 2006 Marco Materazzi was playing in game of his life, the World Cup Final. Brought along by Lippi as a back-up, Matrix got his chance luck when Alessandro Nesta went off injured in the final group game. After being sent-off in the Second-Round game against Australia he had looked to have blown his opportunity. Missing the Quarter-Final, Materazzi did return for the Semi-Final against Germany. Forming a defensive wall along with Fabio Cannavaro, he guided the Azzurri to the Final, where he was literally involved in everything. He fouled Malouda to give away a penalty (which Zidane scored), he scored the equaliser from a corner & he was involved in an incident which he is probably best remembered for worldwide. In his final ever game, Zinedine Zidane head-butted Materazzi in the chest, and somehow Matrix was perceived as the ‘bad-guy’. Materazzi would have the last laugh though, as he would end up scoring in the penalty shootout and being the only Interista to win the World Cup in 2006.
Matrix joined Internazionale in 2001 from Perugia, just after setting the Serie A record for number of goals scored by a defender in a season, with 12 goals. Materazzi was a raw centre-back; at 6ft 4in he was tall, powerful & great in the air. Always carrying a goal-threat from corners, he was also known to have lapses of concentration; either mistakes or late challenges, Materazzi was never too far from a red card. Materazzi was always firm in the tackle and often people complained of dirty tactics (ask Shevchenko). He was a key member of the squad that went so many years in search of a Scudetto, and came to embody the club song, Pazza Inter. Always at the heart of the team, Materazzi was loudest in the celebrations, even when not playing (like celebrating the 2010 Derby della Madoninna victory with a Berlusconi mask).
After so many years of trying, 2006 would see Inter & Materazzi win their first Scudetto on the pitch since 1989. Named the 2007 Serie A Defender of the Year Matrix scored 10 goals, and more importantly the 2 goals against Seina that won lo Scudetto. This was the first of many trophies which would climax on the 22nd May 2010 when Inter became the first ever Italian side to win la Tripletta. Only making a handful of late appearances, Materazzi was still a key member of Mourinho’s squad; the tears and the hugging of the two men after the Champions League Final showed the respect and love they had for each other.
Leaving the club in the summer of 2011 because he couldn’t find space to play under Leonardo, only for Leonardo to leave weeks later, there is no doubt that the Matrix will be back soon at Appiano Gentile at board-level. Tall & covered in tattoo’s, Marco Materazzi was both loved and loathed in equal amounts, but there was no doubt that his heart beated black & blue, a true Bandiera.