World Cup: No special favours for Webb

Howard Webb
Howard Webb
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Howard Webb is about to learn which game he has been allocated to in the World Cup.

He may well be regarded as the top referee out there and the man who took charge of the last World Cup Final, in 2010, but he started this week the same as the rest of the referees - he gets one game only at the start with no guarantee of another.

“Obviously you want it to go well so that you may get the opportunity of moving further on in the competition,” said the man from Rotherham.

“I know it’s a cliche but you really do take it one game at a time. If you mess up then you don’t get a second game no matter who you are. If you make a big mistake in that first game then your tournament is finished.

“I hope me and my team can deliver that first game safely and that we can then progress further into the tournament.”

His team includes the assistants who were on the line for him in the 2010 World Cup Final, Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey.

“I’m one of only four referees to have been in South Africa who is going to Brazil but we are the only refereeing team from that tournament,” Webb said. “We’re rightly proud of that. They are two guys I trust completely and we’ve worked so well together over the years.”

It was a surprise to Webb to be awarded the final last time in his first World Cup and many wondered how he could top it, what would motivate him to keep going.

“Doing that final did change my life in so many positive ways but it adds pressure as well because you’re tagged as being the World Cup Final referee,” he said.

“ When I look back, I realise what an amazing event it is to be appointed to, what an honour and a privilege.

“I was still only 38 and had a long career ahead of me. I thought it would be a sign of real quality to continue with the challenge to maintain the standard in the face of some strong competition and try to get to another World Cup Finals tournament.

“So, I had that clear goal in front of me, to get back to the next one, because no referee, in modern times, has done the final has then gone on to the next tournament four years later.”

This will definitely be his last World Cup and, he says, he does reflect on where his career has taken him.

“This is my ninth major tournament, two World Cups, two European Championships, two Confederation Cups, Under-20 World Cup, U-17 World Cup and the European U-21 Championships - how lucky have i been,” he says.

“Right place, right time ... but I’ve had to work hard, make sacrifices. There are some difficult times but the highs are really high, although the lows are pretty low sometimes.”