World Cup 2006 News
Zidane voted best player at World Cup
By Andy Goldberg Jul 10, 2006, 12:21 GMT
Berlin - French captain Zinedine Zidane was named the best player of the World Cup Monday, just a day after he was sent off in disgrace in the World Cup final for head-butting Marco Materazzi in the last game of his career.
Zidane, 34, won the Golden Ball award after topping the poll of media representatives conducted by FIFA, with 2012 points, ahead of Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro with 1977 points and Italian Andrea Pirlo with 715 points.
The other FIFA award winners were Portugal, who won the prize for most entertaining team; Germany striker Miroslav Klose, whose five goals won him the Golden Shoe award for tournament top scorer; and Italy's Gianluigi Buffon who was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
The France captain scored a cheeky penalty after just seven minutes but saw a straight red in the second period of extra time, which ended 1-1.
It appears the majority of journalists had already cast their votes prior to the Materazzi incident, and Zidane's victory was almost certainly influenced by the fact he was playing his last match.
Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn took the prestigious Golden Ball award in 2002, while Brazil's Ronaldo was voted top player at France 1998.
The French players put up a wall of silence around the incident while Zidane made it to the team bus without having to face the media.
Only coach Raymond Domenech has commented on the matter but he also refused to reveal what he had said to Zidane in the dressing room afterwards.
'I don't mention what happens inside the group. I will not speak on behalf of the players,' he said before going on to question Materazzi's role in the dismissal.
'I don't know what Materazzi told Zidane. All I know is that the man of the match is Materazzi not (Andrea) Pirlo. He scored a goal and had Zidane sent off,' said Domenech.
'I think Materazzi is involved. Something must have happened I don't thing he would react out of the blue.'
Zidane received sympathy from the Italy squad with man of the match Pirlo speculating that tiredness may have been a factor in the Frenchman's moment of madness.
'It was an instinctive action. Maybe he was tired,' said Pirlo. 'He's still a great champion, unfortunately he did something wrong.'
Football's ruling body FIFA say Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo sent off Zidane after fourth official Spaniard Luis Medina Cantalejo informed him of the incident.
'He saw what happened as it happened and he immediately told the referee over the communications system. The referee then sent Zidane off,' FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur