On May 7th 2006, Zinedine Zidane suited up for Real Madrid for the very last time in his career, and the Bernabeu was packed with banners dedicated to Zidane. Zidane, the man of the hour, scored two goals against Villarreal in a 3 - 3 draw, and left the pitch in tears — having the rare luxury of retiring as a Real Madrid legend (something that even Iker Casillas, Raul Gonzalez, Alfredo di Stefano, and Fernando Hierro were not able to do).
From an article in the Independent in 2009:
The man, who even the Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano refers to as “the Maestro” played in front of his adoring home fans for the last time as Real pushed to secure second place behind Barcelona in La Liga.
Things started according to script when on 21 minutes Julio Baptista put Real Madrid ahead. Robinho crossed from the left, Raul’s cushion header tee-ed up the Brazilian and smashed his shot into the roof of the net.
The crowd were willing Zidane to score, even voicing their disapproval at David Beckham when he lined up to take a free-kick in potential Zidane territory.
But Villarreal levelled against the run of play on the half hour. Michel Salgado failed to clear a corner heading it against Alvaro Mejia who turned the ball past his own keeper.
Eight minutes later things had gone from bad to worse for the home side when Diego Forlan turned party pooper, smashing a 25-yard shot past Casillas to put Villarreal in front. The former Manchester United striker almost made it three hitting the post just before half-time.
After the break came the moment everyone inside the Bernabeu had been waiting for - a goal from Zidane. It wasn’t the Frenchman’s best, but with a tame header back across goal from a Beckham cross he had 82,000 in raptures.
Delirium turned to dread minutes later though when defender Sergio Ramos was sent off for blocking a shot with his hand and Forlan scored his second and Villarreal’s third from the spot.
As Zidane has finished his career at Real with three trophyless seasons it would have been harsh if he’d also bailed out with a defeat, and from another perfect Beckham cross Baptista earned Real a point.
Hold back the tears, I dare you: