Howard Webb was a very busy man on Wednesday with his phone going into meltdown.
That’s because of all the goodwill messages and calls after his selection by FIFA for the World Cup Finals in Brazil.
I just wonder how many Premier League managers texted their congrats!
If you’re the best - and the man from Rotherham has been for a long time and was named only last week the world’s No 1 referee for 2013 - then you’re on the receiving end of what FIFA have done this week.
Chatting with him before the start of this season, Howard’s burning ambition was to get to Brazil. Although he was in pole position at that stage, he was most definitely taking nothing for granted.
All he wanted was to try and maintain high standards, avoid any problems and hope he’d get the nod.
It wouldn’t be easy. You certainly come under much closer scrutiny when you’re as high profile as Howard after reffing a World Cup Final and you’re classed as No 1.
And there are always those ready to pull you down at every opportunity (I can think of a certain radio commentator who seems to delight in criticising him!).
But he appears to have sailed through his international games and the Champions League stuff this season. Abroad he is treated with great respect, highly regarded and is extremely well thought of. One hopes Howard, and the rest of the refs, are held in such regard across the Premier League...
Anyway, may I add my congratulations and can speak for many when saying the Howard Webb of yesteryear is the same person today despite all his achievements. Plenty outside football, in schools and the community where he does so much, will say the same. Not to mention the refs, at all levels, he helps.
Celebrity he may be but he’s still happy to pay his way when following his beloved Millers. There he was, at Stevenage back in November, his two kids in tow and pulling on his baseball cap as he joined the rest of the Millers fans on the away end ten minutes before kick off.
I hope Howard gets the honour of the opening game and I wouldn’t be surprised if Brazil 2014 proves to be his farewell on the world stage. It’d be the perfect time and as the only World Cup Final referee to then ref in the following tournament four years later, he’d be going out at the top. And as No 1.