Sometimes football scripts itself so perfectly that you find yourself believing in the tooth fairy again.
Zinedine Zidane’s 2006 World Cup tournament is a perfect example.
The maestro with the exemplary sense of timing announced his intention to retire heading into the tournament, having been the inspiration behind France’s world domination at the turn of the century.
For six games the script writers and higher powers were in perfect symmetry.
First came the tension.
France drew their opening two games against Switzerland and South Korea, with Zidane picking up bookings in both matches to leave him suspended for the must-win game against Togo.
David Trezeguet came in and France ran out 2-0 winners after a nervy goalless first-half. The entire nation breathed a long sigh of relief.
Next came redemption.
Zidane inspired a 3-1 win against Spain in the second round, setting up Patrick Vieira to score before finding the back of the net himself in the 92nd minute.
In the quarter-finals he put in a virtuoso display during the 1-0 win over Brazil, highlights of which you’ll find accompanied by aggressive EDM music on YouTube.
In the semi-final he scored the only goal of the game to send a Portugal side containing Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo home.
It was pure Roy of Le Rovérs stuff.
Then came the final act. The tragedy.
We don’t need to tell you what happened in the final because the sound of Zidane’s forehead hollowing out Marco Materazzi’s ribcage could be heard in the quietest corner of Outer Mongolia.
If we could go back in time and change the way it ended we would. We can’t. However we can offer you the next best thing, courtesy of Andres Iniesta.
Watching Iniesta play this season it’s easy to convince yourself that he’s levitating.
He’s conducting business with the poise, class and composure only seen in players entering the twilight years of their career with nothing else to prove.
Which is exactly why he can right the wrong of Zidane’s 2006 World Cup final.
Like Zizou, Iniesta will bow out of the international game on the biggest stage, whether that means limping home following elimination in the group stages or lifting the trophy.
Like Zizou, Iniesta is two seconds ahead of everyone he comes up against, with the technique to pull off anything he conjures.
But, unlike Zizou, Iniesta doesn’t have that spark seen in so many of the game’s great mavericks. The spark that allows them to carry a team but also lands them in trouble from time to time.
Not since Zizou in 2006 have we wanted someone other than England to lift the trophy so much.
It would be the perfect bookmark to end a perfect career.
Of course, we won’t be complaining if Jamie Vardy bangs in a hat-trick in the final to end 52 years of hurt.