April 17, 2002 – Russia visit France for a friendly at the Stade de France. The two teams did not manage to score goals, but this did not take away from the tension and the atmosphere on the field at all.
In the 70th minute, Biesznte Lzarazu came in a little sharper against Valery Karpin, who was just waiting for that to show his wild temper. The Russian looked to account for the French defender, who was immediately protected by Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.
In seconds, the situation seemed to be over. After the execution of the foul, however, everything resumed. Carpin jumped for a high ball, hitting Vieira’s elbow, after which almost the entire France team took Sbornaya’s “eight”.
Again, Zidane, Henry, Lzarazu, Vieira and Lilian Thuram were most active in their protests and pushing against Karpin, but with the efforts of Viktor Onopko, the melee was again averted.
“Bishente stepped on me several times and kept insulting me in French, but I understood everything because it sounds similar in Spanish – explains Carpin. – They hit me first, and I’m not one of those who will turn the other cheek. “
But the story doesn’t just end on the pitch. As the two teams return to the tunnel, the scandal continues. The scuffle was renewed by Zidane, who “surprised” Onopko with a kick from behind in the kidneys.
“At the Stade de France, the home team’s dressing room is on the right, and ours (the one for the visitors – b.a.) is on the left,” said the former head manager of the Russian national team, Alexander Polinsky, to “Sport-Express”.
The two teams set out, but suddenly there was a commotion and shouts. I ran away to see what was going on – the French administrator was holding Carpin by the shirt, but Valerie broke free. Vieira tried to hit Carpin, Thuram was between them and was trying to break them up.
It turned out that it all started in the tunnel, where Zidane attacked Vitka Onopko. The Frenchman punched him in the kidneys from behind. That started the melee, and Zidane went down.”
Onopko himself cannot remember who hit him. The Russian didn’t even see the perpetrator as the kick came from behind him, but he is sure Zidane was involved in the melee.
According to the Russians, the Roosters’ irritability comes because of a loss three years earlier. In 1999, Russia defeated France 3:2 in the middle of Paris, and the winning goal was the work of Karpin.
Then the French are world champions and have not allowed a loss for more than 14 months. But Sbornaya beats them. The match is from the sixth round of the Euro 2000 qualifiers, which France also subsequently won. Zidane did not play in that match, but Didier Deschamps, Thuram, Marcel Dessai, Laurent Blanc and others were on the pitch for the Roosters.
Karpin is convinced that what happened at the Stade de France in 2002 was directly related to the Russian victory three years earlier.
“What do you think – that the French don’t remember how three years ago they fell to us, do they? How could they not! Of course their players were ready to die on the pitch to give it back to us, even in a simple control”says Karpin to “Sport-Express”.
However, as very often happens, after the passions cool down, the cup becomes closer. The two teams get together and drink a few beers together, and Carpin and Zidane reconcile and even exchange a few friendly lines.