France immortalises Zidane headbutt with 5-metre statue

The infamous headbutt that French football legend Zinedine Zidane landed on an Italian during a World Cup final has been transformed into a giant statue and displayed in front of the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

The bronze work of art, simply titled "Headbutt", was Wednesday attracting crowds of tourists and locals who jostled to have their photos taken in front of the five-metre (16-foot) statue.

The sculpture is by Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed, subject of a retrospective exhibition in the Pompidou from October 3 until next January.

"This statue goes against the tradition of making statues in honour of certain victories. It is an ode to defeat," said exhibition organiser Alain Michaud.

Zidane headbutts Materazzi
Employees work near a bronze sculpture by Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed displayed in front of the Centre Pompidou contemporary art center in Paris. The sculpture immortalises the "headbutt" that French former football skipper Zinedine Zidane landed on Italian player Materazzi during the World Cup final in 2006. Pic/AFP

A much smaller version of the statue -- which shows the two football players in the seconds after the headbutt, with the Italian player reeling after the attack -- was previously exhibited by a New York art gallery.

Zidane, who holds legendary status in France as a member of the national teams that won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, was sent off in the 2006 World Cup final for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest.

That was the then France captain's last ever professional match as a player and he later claimed he had reacted to slurs the Italian directed against his sister and mother.

Zidane, who lit up the field during his playing days and helped France to victory at the 1998 World Cup, later apologised to viewers and said he was responding to repeated insults. 

The statue will stay in its spot in front of the Pompidou till the end of the Abdessemed exhibition in January.

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