A salute to Marco Materazzi: “Tutti pazzi per Materazzi”

This summer has seen the end of Marco Materazzi’s time as an Inter player & as he leaves as a free agent after 10 years of service to the Nerazzurri , I felt it was fitting to look back at the 37 year old defender’s career & pay tribute to not only a great defender but a man who holds Inter in a special place in his heart like all good Interista. Due to his unpredictable personality & overly aggressive play he is known amongst fans & other players as ‘The Matrix’ & ‘The Butcher’. So where did it all begin?

His early life & Career
‘Matrix’ was born on 19th August 1973 in Lecce, where his father Giuseppe played for U.S. Lecce, Giuseppe also was a coach & manager of teams including Pisa, Lazio, Sporting CP & Tianjin Teda, so from a young age football was in Marco’s blood.

He began his footballing career with the Messina Peloro youth team in the 1990/91 season, then spent his early career in the lower Italian divisions first with amateur side Tor di Quinto(1991-92) then on to Serie C2 side Marsala(1993-94) & Serie C1 club Trapani(1994-95) where he just missed out on promotion to Serie B after losing the playoff to Gualdo.

But even so he did enough to get noticed by Serie B side Perugia Calcio who signed him in 1995, but he spent part of the 1996/97 season on loan with Serie C side Carpi before returning to Perugia. He finally hit the big time when in the 1998/99 season he played for Premier League side Everton, where in typical ‘Matrix’ style he got sent off four times in just 27 games, though he did score twice for them against Middlesborough in the league & Huddersfield Town in the league cup.
He then returned to Perugia where in the 2000/01 season he smashed the record of most goals scored by a defender in a season by smashing home 12 goals. This was enough for him to get noticed by the great Inter who promptly signed him for 10 million Euros. He finished the 2006/07 season as the top scoring defender in Serie A with 10 goals & he made his 150th apperance for Inter in a 2-0 win against Atalanta in April 2008. During his decade at Inter he won a number of major honours including five Serie A titles, one Champions League, three Coppa Italia, and the Supercoppa Italiana three times. In total he made 276 apperances for the Nerazzurri and scored a respectable 20 goals.
What about his International career?

In typical Materazzi style his International career was full of controvasy, he made his debut for the Italy national team on the 25th April 2001 in a 1-0 friendly win against South Africa. In the qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup he made two apperances against Georgia & Hungary, then in the finals he was used as a reserve player to back up Alessandro Nesta & Fabio Cannavaro making only one apperance as a sub for Nesta in the 2-1 loss against Croatia in the group stage.

Two years later at Euro 2004 he was again on the bench for the first two games but got to start int he final group match against Bulgaria as Cannavaro was suspended. Afterwards he was widely criticized for bringing down Martin Petrov in the box conceding a penalty.
Then in his 3rd major tournament with Italy, the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he again started as a reserve player but after Nesta suffered an injury in the group match against Czech Republic he came on & made an impact by scoring. He then received a red card in the last 16 match against Australia so missed the quarter final against the Ukraine. Then in the final against France he became the most talked about player of the World Cup. First he fouled Florent Malouda to concede a penalty which Zinedine Zidane scored, he then made up for that mistake by scoring to level the match after which the match went to extra time and then ultimately penalties during which came Materazzi’s most famous moment when in a confrontation with Zidane he got headbutted by the Frenchman who received a red card & ended his career in shame. Italy went on to win their forth World Cup with a 5-3 win on penalties. After the match Zidane accused ‘Matrix’ of insulting his Sister & Mother, Materazzi claimed that after he had grabbed Zidane’s shirt the French legend had said to him sarcasically “If you want my shirt, I will give to you afterwards” Materazzi then revealed that he replied, “preferisco quella puttana di tua sorella” (I prefer the whore that is your sister), which resulted in the headbutt. To make things worse for Marco three British taboids alleged that the comment made to Zidane was of a racist nature claiming he’d called him “the son of a terrorist whore.” Materazzi took legal action against the newspapers and the allegations were later withdrawn, with each paying him substantial damages. Under Roberto Donadoni, Materazzi appeared consistently during the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign and became a starter after Alessandro Nesta’s retirement. In the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, he started in the 3–0 loss to the Netherlands but was substituted in the 54th minute in what would later prove to be his final appearance for Italy.

So what now for him?

In an interview with Gazzetta Dello Sport he reveals his plans & reminisces about his 10 years at Inter:

“Ranocchia is my heir, give him the number 23. Gasperini? Must pedal…” When asked about Materazzi handing over “his” No.23 shirt to Andrea Ranocchia Inter’s young defender said “I’m happy, I thanked him personally and I hope to honour this number and this shirt for as long as possible.”
The Matrix story:

  • 2001 with Ronaldo – Played with il Fenomeno for only one year but Materazzi has no doubts: “He is the best, even if he was injured.”
  • 2007 and the signature on the Scudetto – A protagonist in the title deciding game: scored two goals against Siena and Inter conquered the Scudetto.
  • 2011 with Leonardo – The last season of Materazzi was ruined by the unfortunate relationship with the Brazilian coach.

Occasionally in the stands during training as well as games, there is a chorus which was often chanted loudly. “Tutti pazzi per Materazzi”, and yet for the first time in ten years, Marco Materazzi is no more. Materazzi has said goodbye to Inter a year earlier than what was written on the contract and his appearances in the Nerazzurri shirt ended at 276 games.

“Because at the end of last season I was told that I no longer fit in the plans of the old coach and because of him, I was not even a part on the Champions League list. It was kind of a “threat” but I don’t know the real season. I have never, not once, gotten angry or messed things up because I didn’t play.”

About Leonardo?
“The old coach used to say that I gave everything on and off the field right? Well, I wanted to point out that I didn’t play in my Italian Cup. And maybe with a little more changes Inter would have done even better. Not only changes can be pro Materazzi, they would be pro Inter as well.”

So what was your response?
“I felt a little betrayed but I have spoken to him about all these things because I’m not one who speaks behind people’s back. It is something that I felt that I was cheated. It was my conviction.”

But the old coach is now gone. What about the new one?
“Maybe Gasperini has made different choices than my confirmation but I never have the good fortune to know him and he doesn’t know me so it is less severe. One certainty from me is that leaving Inter a year early was not my decision. To Moratti, the last thing I said was that I would have given up all the money from the last year of the contract to win all four trophies that Inter will win this year.”

And what do you think of this Gasperini’s Inter?
“Things are still new. Gasperson has never had the players that Ferguson has had. Now he has. He should have a nice bike ride to Pinarello and must show that he really deserves that nickname.”

Now that you’re not here, what do you miss?
“It is not the affection from my teammates and friends because I get 3-4 calls every day from Pinzolo. I have a phone full of text messages and people are telling me that without me, it is not the same Inter. If I didn’t retired maybe I would have been an unwelcome for some but not for the majority.”

A regret?
“Not having Mourinho as my last coach. He addressed us with strong character and made us grow.”

You haven’t played for final farewell game right?
“Maybe it would have sufficed to be in the Italian Cup final and I also asked to see and salute my fans against Catania, the last game in the league: but I might have been too emotional and I would look bad.”

What are you the most proud of?
“I am the only player in the history of Inter to become World Champion twice with Inter and the national team.”

The game that you remember the most (besides the Champions League Final)?
“Against Siena because it was the first Scudetto on the field with my two goals.”

The worst?
“The Scudetto game against Siena at home with my missed penalty.”

The Inter coach that you feel the most connected (beside Mourinho)?
“But I was connected to almost everyone to some the connection was less.”

Are you talking about Benitez?
“Look, I will respond with the same words which were written in Jamie Carragher’s autobiography: “Benitez is one of those who are presumptuous that if you meet him in a pub on a Saturday night, after minutes, punches will be pulled.”

The best teammate with whom you played with?
“An injured Ronaldo. But there is Eto’o because every time I begged him to let me win a game, he let me win.”

And that time against Liverpool, Ibrahimovic said that Inter lost because of Materazzi?
“Water under the bridge then I won the Champions League.”

The most friendly teammate?
“I would say Massimo Della Casa (Physiotherapist) because he is my friend as well as my muscles. I could also list 5 or 6 more but they know who they are…”

If you can thank someone who would it be?
“To Massimo Moratti because of him, my next tattoo would be ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ because looks can be deceiving. He has never trusted anyone who said that I don’t want to do well.”

The last tattoo you’ve done?
“The badge of Inter on my heart. Now that I am no longer a player of Inter I could do it without risking anyone give me the creep.”

You are not an Inter player. What will you be then?
“I have given until the end of August to see if I could receive an offer to play for another year. Otherwise, there is already an agreement to start working for the club.”

The role?
“It will be defined with time but I will start working with Piero Ausilio: youth development and scouting players.”

And no coach?
“Maybe one day I’ll get the license but I think it is a too demanding role even for a person like me.”

Source: Gazzetta dello Sport
So like Facchetti & Picchi before him Materazzi will stay with Inter behind the scenes & help guide this great club of ours to even bigger greatness in the future, even if he does leave to play one more season else where we can be sure we haven’t seen the last of the Inter legend that is Marco ‘Matrix’ Materazzi and we Interista salute you for your years of loyalty & commitment.

About Don Nerazzurri

Huge fan of FC Internazionale Milano and founder of the Nerazzurri World blog, Inter is in my soul, cut me & I bleed black and blue! 'il Padrino' of the #InterFamily! C'e Solo l'Inter! Follow me on Twitter - @Don_Nerazzurri

Posted on July 21, 2011, in Misc. and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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