The three most-acclaimed referees in football history
The referee is the most important decision-making authority and the sole responsible person for enforcing the Laws of the Game during any football matches. They play a vital role in the running of a football match. With novel technologies like VAR being introduced, the relevance of a referee is all the more significant. We take a look at the three best referees in football history.
3. Markus Merk
German former football referee Markus Merk is widely regarded as the best referee of his time and also holds the record for officiating the most number of Bundesliga matches. He was conferred with the FIFA’s “Best Referee of the Year” Award three times and the DFB German Referee of the Year a record six times. He made his debut as the youngest Bundesliga referee ever in 1988, while he was merely 25 years old. He also officiated football matches at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He served his terms as a FIFA listed referee starting from the 1993 World Cup qualifier until his retirement post the match of Bayern München and Hertha BSC Berlin on the last day of the 2008 Bundesliga season. Besides his refereeing career, he is also a professional dentist.
Portuguese football referee Pedro Proença is hailed as one of the best referees of modern times. He was the first referee to officiate in both the Finals of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Euros in the same calendar year. He was listed as the FIFA affiliated referee in 2003 and was also included in the UEFA’s Elite category in 2009. He was named as the Best Referee of The Year in 2007 and 2011 by the Portuguese Football Federation and also crowned as the World’s Best Referee of 2012 by IFFHS. He was also one of the most busy referees in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
1. Pierluigi Collina
Italian former football referee Pierluigi Collina has a giant stature and served his terms as a FIFA listed referee from 1995 to 2005. He was named FIFA’s “Best Referee of the Year” a record six consecutive times and is widely regarded as the best referee of international football history in the beautiful game’s history. Collina was a member of the UEFA Referees Committee. He pursued his referee’s course way back in 1977 and was nicknamed Kojak for his distinctive bald look. Some of the best matches that he officiated were the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final between Brazil and Germany and the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United.