While the calls for Zizou's legacy to be forever tarnished flow freely from the cheapseats of Sports Journalists everywhere, I found a great example of how time will heal Zizou's legacy to the world.
The sports rag of all rags L'Equipe, ask Lance Armstrong about'em, wrote:
''eternal regrets', condemned Zidane's act of violence.'Zinedine,' they queried, 'the most difficult thing this morning is not to try to explain why Les Bleus, your Bleus, lost the final of the World Cup which they could have won, but to explain to millions of children around the world how you could let yourself go to the point of charging at and head-butting Marco Materazzi.'During the match in Berlin's Olympiastadion where so many pages of sports history were written, you were Ali, the genius of the ring, the greatest.'But not Ali, nor (Jesse) Owens nor Pele, men that you were about to join among the most brilliant sports legends, ever broke the rules the way you did.'Why also, weren't you on the pitch to console your friends Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez after the loss?'You left them alone, just like the millions of kids who were inconsolable in front of their television set.'Zinedine, you must be a very unhappy man this morning. You are also going to have to explain your gesture to your four sons.'It was the last image you left as a football player, Zinedine. How could this happen to the man you are?'
I highlight the Ali part for the fact that now we see him as the perfect embodiment of integrity and sporting spirit the scribes show us in measured reflection. I love Ali, but the things the man said about Joe Frazier leading up to Ali/Frazier III, a 'gorilla, too ugly to be in the ring with him' were absolutely hideous. Frazier gave him his chance to regain his foothold in the sport in 1974 and that is how Ali eventually repaid him. Same with Foreman in Africa, he essentially decried George's actual Africanness by his lack of rapport with Zaire locals. Doomed by his introverted shyness, Foremen never could or wanted to, mesh with his fans like Ali. But in the end history has filtered his image into the highlights we all are meant to remember. Zizou will not be able to erase his actions, but they will not be allowed to tarnish his overall legacy. Tell your kids about the only man who has won the World player of the year award, Champions League Trophy, European Championship and the World Cup....then show them the headbutt and remind them no one is ever above the game, no matter what name their jersey bears.