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Italy’s 2006 World Cup final penalty shootout was a flawless example of holding your nerve

Five penalties taken. Five penalties scored. No drama.

The events of the 110th minute of the 2006 World Cup final overshadowed the actual game.

It’s easy to forget Italy won the match on penalties after Zinedine Zidane attempted to headbutt Marco Materazzi back into another, as of yet undiscovered, dimension.

All of which is a travesty given Italy’s five flawless penalties were a breathtaking display of holding your nerve.


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Jewels remain still gleaming

Getty Images - Getty
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Jewels remain still gleaming

Andrea Pirlo

Another ball flying onto the pitch from the stands threatened to break Pirlo’s concentration.

But while Fabien Barthez’s eyes were briefly diverted Pirlo maintained his focus. You could have placed pre-game Joe Hart, frothing at the mouth with adrenaline, behind the goal and Pirlo still wouldn’t have blinked.

He took three lazy steps towards the spot, allowing Barthez to commit, before stroking the ball down the middle and trotting off in light celebration.

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Marco Materazzi

Materazzi stepped up with a Zizou-shaped hole in his chest to take Italy’s second penalty, having just watched Sylvain Wiltord net France’s first.

If he was hurting he didn’t show it. Barthez guessed right, leaping to his left, but the ball was already rolling down the back of the net by the time he got across.

The only thing missing was a provocative celebration. A wild melee between forehead and post would have gone down a treat.

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Daniele De Rossi

De Rossi, the youngest member of Italy’s squad, watched David Trezeguet cannon his penalty of the crossbar. The door was, if not wide open, slightly ajar.

You wouldn’t have blamed the 22-year-old for playing it safe. Taking some power off or going a foot inside where he’d originally planned.

Instead De Rossi walked calmly forward from the edge of the penalty area and planted a shot into the top right corner. The same corner Trezeguet had failed to locate minutes earlier. Postage. Stamp.

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Alessandro Del Piero

Juventus’ shaven-headed genius Del Piero made light work of the chaos that always threatens to swarm takers during a penalty shootout.

He let Barthez go to his right, burying the ball into the opposite side of the net. Pirlo, embracing Fabio Cannavaro on the half-way line, momentarily let his ice-cool existence slip.

Italy were close.

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Fabio Grosso

Grosso scored the game-changing semi-final goal on the 4 July, moved to Inter Milan on 6 July then, on 9 July, found himself standing over Italy’s fifth penalty.

Willy Sagnol had scored France’s last effort, piling the pressure on the left-back. Time to be great. A straight run up masked his true intentions.

At the last second he snapped his hips closed, sending Barthez the wrong way and Italy’s school of ’06 into the history books.

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