WORLD Cup final referee Howard Webb has been made Honorary Freeman of the Borough in his home town of Rotherham, writes digital editor Graham Walker.
He revealed why he wanted to become a referee.
“Two words really - rubbish player!” he joked, as he accepted the council’s highest honour at Rotherham Town Hall.
“In my mind’s eye most referees were bald and old. Which is what I’ve become...”
The miner’s son from Canklow has refereed the World Cup final, the UEFA Champions League final, and been awarded the MBE, all in the past nine months.
He said: “I hope that serves as some inspiration - that amazing things can happen to ordinary people when you find a passion, ambition, drive and a lot of support from really decent people.
“I’m proud of where I’m from. I feel privileged to be an ambassador for Rotherham, wherever I go. To put the name of this great town on the map makes me feel really lucky.”
Howard, married to Kay, mother of their three children Holly, Jack and Lucy, gave special thanks to his family, friends and bosses at South Yorkshire Police, where he remains three years into a five-year career break from his day job as a police sergeant.
He received a pendant and an illuminated address, bearing the Rotherham Coat of Arms.
Howard also signed the Roll of Honorary Freemen in front of civic guests including Rotherham Mayor Coun Rose McNeely, Rev Canon David Bliss, Vicar of Rotherham, the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, David Moody, the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire AP Cooper, and Howard’s boss, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, Med Hughes.
Council leader Coun Roger Stone, who proposed the motion to honour him in recognition of his contribution to sport and his services to charity, said: “He is a fantastic ambassador for Rotherham and sport in general.”
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