The Greatest Referee in Football History

Football Greatest Referee
Former football referee Pierluigi Collina before the match UEFA Super Cup at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena

Referees have the toughest job on the field that should not be taken lightly. Many consider the referee as a demi-god on the pitch because whatever the ref decides, the players must follow. Football betting is directly influenced by the ref’s decisions, for example, when the ref decides to award a penalty, it could change the entire projection of the game.

Let’s talk about the greatest referee in football history and what makes him so revered amongst players, managers, and fans.

Pierluigi Collina – the greatest referee to blow the famous whistle

Pierluigi Collina is an instantly recognisable Italian referee who holds the respect of the most well-known figures in football. Easily identifiable with his bald head and piercing eyes, Collina has devoted himself to refereeing for 28 years, including taking charge of the Champions League, World Cup, and the UEFA Cup finals.

Through his larger than life personality, Collina became somewhat of a famous football referee in the world. His impressive high-quality refereeing saw him earn the World Best Referee of the Year award six times in a row, from 1998 to 2003. Collina was always fair in his decisions when a player misbehaved. What is seen as a dull role on the field, Collina gave it life by bringing his personality to the field. In addition to refereeing high profile matches, Collina was chosen as the Pro Evolution Soccer’s cover star. One thing is certain when mentioning the greatest football referees, you simply must talk about Pierluigi Collina’s contribution to the game.

Football Greatest Referee
Football referee points out a yellow card

Who are some of the other great referees of all time?

Markus Merk

In 1988, at the age of 25, Markus Merk became the youngest person to become a Bundesliga referee. During his career, Merk won the DFB German Referee of the year a record six times and the IFFHS World Best Referee of the year award, three times.

Howard Webb

An instantly recognisable name in football, Howard Webb is one of the best referees to come out of England. He made a record by refereeing two high profile final matches in the same year. In 2010, he was the assigned referee for the FIFA World Cup Final and the UEFA Championship League Final.

Peter Mikkelsen

Peter Mikkelsen was a Danish Superliga referee from 1985 until 1986. Mikkelsen is most notably known for refereeing at the World Cup held in Italy in 1990 – he was 30 years old. He also won the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) award for Best Referee from 1991 to 1993.

Kim Milton Nielsen

Standing at 1.96m, Kim Milton Nielsen is considered one of the tallest referees in the world. Nielsen definitely counts as one of the best referees in the world too as he officiated 53 Champions League competitions and 154 international games. He was also on referee duties at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, as well as the 2004 and 2005 Champions Leagues.

Pedro Proença

Hailed as one of the best football referees of modern times, Pedro Proença was the first referee to officiate both the UEFA Champions League Finals and UEFA Euros in the same calendar year. Proença was named as the Best Referee of the Year in 2007 and 2011 by the Portuguese Football Federation.

Anders Frisk

Frisk officiated over 118 international matches over the course of his career. The Swedish referee is perhaps best known for an incident which involved a Djurgårdens supporter running onto the pitch and kung-fu kicking Frisk. In December 2005, Frisk was awarded the FIFA’s Presidential Award as “recognition for a career cut short following death threats against his family”. This followed after Frisk received death threats from Chelsea fans because he sent off the Chelsea player Didier Drogba from the pitch.

Football refereeing – a thankless task

For the most part, referees are subjected to hatred and hostile situations. It definitely isn’t an easy job and is often seen as a thankless task. However, these phenomenal referees mentioned sure have done their job justice. Whether their decision to award a free kick has helped to win or lose a sports bet, football referees are crucial to the game. Who are some of the referees that you respect and admire?


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