Webb Ends 25-Year Refereeing Career

Howard WebbHoward Webb has blown the final whistle on his 25-year refereeing career to take up a technical role with the governing body for officials and help bring through the next generation of men in the middle.

The well-respected Webb has been England’s representative at the last four major international tournaments and he took charge of his final match at Brazil 2014 when the hosts beat Chile on penalties.

Part-time policeman Webb, popular on the pitch for his authority and straight-talking, puts away his cards having taken charge of more than 500 Barclays Premier League and Football League fixtures since becoming a Select Group referee in 2003.

Widely regarded as the best English referee of his generation, he was praised for his rapid response when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed with a heart attack in an FA Cup tie at Tottenham in February 2012, an incident that left a lasting impact on Webb.

In 2010 he became the first person to referee a Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year but will also be remembered for failing to send off Nigel de Jong for his kung-fu kick into the chest of Xabi Alonso when Spain beat Holland in Johannesburg.

In his new role, the 43-year-old from Yorkshire will oversee the standards of referees for Professional Game Match Official Limited (PGMOL) and work on the development programme that guides aspiring officials to the top level.

He will also have an increased media presence, with one of his primary functions to offer technical advice to the television rights-holders, including Sky Sports, BT and the BBC with Match Of The Day.

‘I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch,’ Webb said.

‘Refereeing has given me so much and it’s important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge.’

Webb was chastised for supposedly favouring Manchester United, and Liverpool winger Ryan Babel was fined for posting on Twitter a doctored picture of the referee wearing a United shirt. On Wednesday the social media site was littered with some amusing takes on his perceived bias, even though he is a proclaimed Rotherham fan.

Michael Owen paid tribute to Webb, saying: ‘I know praising refs isn’t easily done by some but fair play to Howard Webb, arguably the world’s best for the last few years.’

Webb started out in 1989 by refereeing games in the local leagues of Yorkshire and in 1998 took leave from his job with South Yorkshire Police. In 2011, he was awarded an MBE for services to football. —dailymail

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