Ageism: 67 Mundial years added to my life, so yes it’s past the point of retirement
Pallor: Coming back
Forecast: Who the hell cares? We’re done. Sun is shining and the weather is sweet, ya
Well that was a crazy finish last night. Going to wrap this up not with some weepy or hokey retrospective but some readings, because it’s time to go out and play tourist. I’ll check in on the blog, but apart from something truly bizarre – like perhaps, a head-butt to the chest of the first leather-shorted local who gives me a nipple tweak – this is it.
Let’s start off where we always start off. Yes, it’s the Ray Skyrme Show:
(PK 5-3) 1 ITA v FRA 1
MARTIN MEISSNER/AP Zidane wins Golden Boot. "I got my award," says Fabio Cannavaro (pictured). "That's it right here."
Malouda downed, seven minutes gone!
Zizou’s change-up bamboozles Buffon!
Materazzi heads in!
An incredible din!
Twenty-five minutes played—the game’s on!
Score still 1-1 as extra time starts.
France control well the midfield ramparts.
(But Zidane’s head-butt card
Leaves this Cup Final scarred!)
Swell with pride all Italian hearts!
Yuppers. Thanks as always, Ray.
Big story here remains Zidane’s head butt on Materazzi, and what might have caused it -- French teammate William Gallas thought there had to be provocation. Richard Williams in the Guardian has a fine piece crafted on deadline – a real art, that, and Mr. Williams gets it – about Zidane:
Footballers generally operate a law of omerta on such matters, and Zidane is a reluctant talker at the best of times, so we may never be really sure what Materazzi did or said that provoked him into one of the acts of retaliatory violence that have studded his otherwise brilliant passage through the game. Whatever the cause, however, after 108 matches and 31 goals for France it was saddening to watch the great man leave the pitch, and football, in such an unsatisfactory manner.
Zidane has neverthless won the Golden Ball as the tournament's outstanding player. I voted for Cannavaro, who was runner-up.
Overall on the tournament, Star colleague Cathal Kelly blames globalization for what was, in sum, a blah soccer tournament hinging on defence:
Four decades ago, the clash between English soccer and Brazilian soccer was an unpredictable mixing of styles and tactics. The results were combustible and exciting. Today, the world's biggest stars play in the same leagues and play the same way. They see each other every weekend, rather than once every four years. There are no more surprises. The result — a turgid stalemate — was often on display in Germany.
Michel Platini says it's been the Coaches' World Cup:
"I'm not saying the football is poor, it just depends more than ever on what the coaches come up with. And in this tournament, you have to admit the formations have been rather defensive. In terms of the football, I don't think Germany 2006 will go down in the annals."
That's it from here. Skimpy way to end it, I know. But the rest is up to you -- did Zidane deserve the Golden Ball? Should FIFA adopt some form of video replay, which appeared to play a role in Sunday's pivotal moment (even if FIFA seems bound and determined to deny the possibility)? How does this Italy side rank with previous champions?
Like I said up top, i'm well past retirement age so I'm signing off with a severe case of laptopis rigoris. Many thanks to Spencer back at the home office for making this thing look so good, and to Cathal for his work here in Germany and from Toronto. Thanks to the Globe's Stephen Brunt -- on his way home as I type -- for being such a fine Oscar Madison to my Oscar Madison at the Frankfurt home base. And thanks, of course, to everyone who stopped by and even dropped in a comment. It's been fun. It's been tiring. And best of all, God willing, we only have to wait four years to do it all over again.