If you watched Juventus' near-miracle comeback against Cristiano Ronaldo and company in Wednesday's Champions League quarterfinal, you were thrilled to the final moments. On the heels of AS Roma's similarly miraculous recovery over Barcelona, another Serie A side was staging an upset, only to be undone in the 94th minute by a penalty call that was perhaps clear cut within the laws of the game, but less so within the philosophy of football purism.
Sid Lowe reported in his gamecast for The Guardian:
Real have escaped into the semi-finals! Juventus hit three goals to cancel out the first-leg score and move to the brink of a sensational, historic triumph. But then Michael Oliver awarded a penalty following an untidy tackle by Benatia - but was it a foul? - and Ronaldo seized his moment. This tie will be talked about - argued about - for years.
From Madrid fanaticos who found the foul "as clear as day," to Juventus supporters who claimed "another case of rigged officiating in favor of the Spanish giants," to Italian journalists who were thrown out of their press boxes in the 98th minute of the game, Lowe's reporting rings true: this was a defining moment in football, casting dubious light on UEFA corruption, Video Assisted Refereeing, the vanity of the modern referee, and further cementing CR7's glorious legacy. But one topic seems to have been overlooked: why didn't Gianluigi Buffon, after being ejected from the game, headbutt Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane in the chest?
As we might recall, it was against the Italian National Team in 2006 where Zinedine Zidane, at the height of his final performance for Les Bleus, performed the headbutt heard 'round the world against Azurri defender Marco Materrazi. Absurd, captivating and shocking all at once, the headbutt would be studied and condemned in the decades to come, forever a part of football lore.
So, in his impassioned exit from Wednesday's game, the world watching as Buffon was thrown out of (likely) the final UEFA game of his career, and so robbed of the poetry of a miracle comeback, we ask: why not Gigi? Why not one final twist to the legend?
The script had already been written. The stage was set. Your chance to eternalize yourself in the football books was upon you! Why rob us of the headline? Why steal from us the chance to revel, to scream, to script plays and movies! To stage forever the headbutt to end all headbutts!
An act of Shakespearean proportions. Just as in Julius Caesar, we would know the crime is coming, scripted from the first act: Zidane's offense sets the ball in motion, yet still we writhe through the tension, the rise of a fabled keeper, still we anticipate the violence, the game of champions, still we grip our seats as the man falls, act four: the headbutt in climax, delivered straight to the heart! Et tu, Gigi?!
Denouement. Catharsis. End.
Oh, Gigi Buffoon! How you've missed your shot at immortality.