France striker David Trezeguet stressed Zinedine Zidane should be remembered for all the magic he has brought to the game and not for his moment of madness in the World Cup final.
The French captain, in his last match before retiring, was sent off in extra-time after headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest.
Italy went on to win a penalty shoot-out 5-3 but their triumph was overshadowed by Zidane's indiscretion.
The Real Madrid midfielder's agent Alain Migliaccio said his client had been provoked by the Italian and Zidane is due to give his version of events in the near future.
Trezeguet, however, preferred to focus on all the great things achieved by his international team-mate, who was France's 1998 World Cup hero.
'Considering all that Zidane has done for the national team we can only say thank you and bravo,' he said. 'He is an exceptional player and an exceptional human being and he will recover.
'He just needs time to be with his family right now. Of course, we had all hope for a better ending for him and for our national team.'
Trezeguet himself remained philosophical despite missing the penalty which saw his team lose Sunday's World Cup final against Italy.
Trezeguet, who entered the pitch in the first period of extra-time, stepped up to take France's second kick in a dramatic shoot-out but although he beat Juventus club-mate Gianluigi Buffon he saw his effort hit the crossbar.
Italy went on to win 5-3 on penalties and lift their fourth World Cup.
'It's true that I know Buffon very well but I didn't change my style of striking the ball because of that,' said Trezeguet. 'I didn't think I hit the ball badly. I think it's important that one takes responsibility for their acts and I walk with my head held up high.
'We have to accept defeat, look ahead, this is part of football.'
Zidane's penalty had given Les Bleus a seventh-minute lead before Italy equalised 12 minutes later with Materazzi's header.
Raymond Domenech's side did look the better side in the second half but failed to score after regular and extra-time.
'We did dominate and I don't think we were inferior to Italy,' Trezeguet added. 'Unfortunately, we weren't able to score and the game was decided on penalties.
'We knew then that it could go either way.'