Materazzi discussed the famous World Cup final flashpoint on ESPN.
"I was close enough to Zidane to stop him jumping. I put my arm around him and gave him a little tug, with my body on him. Pretty standard stuff; it happens hundreds of times a game.
"I quickly apologised, but he kept saying, over and over again, that if I wanted his shirt so badly, I could have it after the game. He wouldn't stop. So I said that, instead of his shirt, I'd rather have his sister. That was it. That's all it was.
"Maybe it was the adrenaline; maybe it was the fatigue; maybe it was the occasion. But the next thing that happened was so difficult to understand. He walked towards me and, out of the blue, head-butted me in the chest.
"It was the last thing I expected. Had I anticipated it and raised my hands, odds are we would both have been sent off. I have no idea what went through his mind. I do know that my conscience is clear.
"What I said wasn't very nice perhaps, but it was no different from the trash talking that takes place at any level of football, from the schoolyard to, as we saw, the World Cup final. I'm sure he heard far worse many, many times.
"Everybody speculated about what was said. The media put forth all sorts of theories, lip-readers were called in and accused me of saying horrible things alluding to his mother and to terrorism.
"Zidane himself never gave his side, though, sometime later, he did say my words had not been racist or terrorist-related. It allowed me to clear my name and I took legal action against those media outlets who had printed the worst rumours as facts.
"This was important to me, particularly the stuff about his mother. I may have said nasty things over my career, but I have never referred to anyone's mother. I lost my own when I was 15 years old and it's something I have always avoided.
"In any case, the next thing I knew I was on the ground and Buffon was sprinting off his line shouting for the referee. We were so far away from the play at that stage that Buffon was, I think, the only player who saw it happen in real time.
"It occurred to me that it was entirely possible that no official saw it either and I know that to this day there is debate over who actually saw it and whether they only caught the replay on the monitor.
"Instead, somehow, the officials knew what had happened. And he was sent off."
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