Football Italiano’s 500@five – Materazzi still going strong at 36

Marco Materazzi may not be everyone’s favourite person and in fact it would be much easier to find people who hate Matrix than ones who like him.

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But over the previous week, Materazzi’s performances against Juventus and Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia proved that the veteran Italian defender still has the quality to stand up to top-quality opposition. Materazzi was quite impressive when faced with the likes of Diego, Amauri, Alberto Gilardino and Stevan Jovetic. Marco put in some good tackles as well as his trademark lunges throughout the two games reminding everyone that the ex-Perugia man needs to be feared even today.

Over the past two years Matrix has been restricted to more of a bench role than any time on the pitch, but despite his irregular appearances, Coach Jose Mourinho still considers Materazzi an integral part of the squad. Last summer there were speculations in the Italian media that Marco would join Greek-side Panathinaikos but the defender instead signed a three-year extension with the Nerazzurri. The contract will likely see him end his career with Inter, a team he joined nine years ago. Over the last decade Materazzi has made his name as a no-holds-barred tackler and become the subject of much scorn in the peninsula because of his ways.

The man who probably etched his name into history for being on the wrong end of Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt has also been a regular goalscorer over the years. He holds the record for the most number of goals scored by a defender in an Italian season when he put in 12 for Perugia in the 2000/01 season. During the 2006/07 season Matrix scored another 10 goals for Inter including a spectacular overhead kick against Messina. But his goal-scoring abilities are often overshadowed by his rather fierce nature on the field. Marco has gotten into trouble with opposing players and even officials a number of times during his career.

Materazzi’s duels with Andriy Shevchenko are well documented and the Ukrainian can definitely pin the blame on the Italian for various scars and bruises he has suffered. He is regularly involved in riling up players and one such furbizia led to the climatic end of Zidane’s career. In the recent Milan derby Materazzi run afoul of authorities once again as he donned a mask of Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister and Milan owner, during the victory celebrations. Marco luckily escaped with only a warning on this instance but on previous occasions including the aftermath of 2006 World Cup final he has received lengthier sanctions.

Now at the tail-end of his career Marco still retains his fierce personality and has proved that he is capable of filling in as an able replacement for Walter Samuel and Lucio. Marco has also become a guiding figure at the club and one can frequently see him talking to the youngsters especially the fiery Mario Balotelli. Mourinho has also spoken about Matrix’s managerial skills in the past and it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see Marco step into the coaching world after he retires. How Materazzi manages a team will indeed be interesting to see and may prove to be the only way he can change his current image of ‘un asesisno’.


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