Meet the Rotherham ref headed for the World Cup
PUBLISHED: 08:33 28 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 February 2013
He started refereeing in the Rotherham and District Sunday League but this summer Howard Webb will officiate on the biggest stage of them all as England's representative at the 2010 World Cup.
He started refereeing in the Rotherham and District Sunday League but this summer Howard Webb will officiate on the biggest stage of them all as Englands representative at the 2010 World Cup.
The former Brinsworth Comprehensive pupil, whose career highlights include refereeing the 2007 FA Cup Final and at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, admits receiving the World Cup call is the pinnacle of any referees career and he does not mind at all which teams he is tasked with taking charge of.
The 38-year-old said: Ive been football mad ever since I can remember and am still a passionate Rotherham United fan. Being involved in a World Cup is a tremendous honour.
Youre only guaranteed one game to start with and whether you get another appointment depends on how well you do in that game. Ill have a team of two English assistant referees working with me in South Africa so we will just be focussing on making sure we do as well as we can in that first game.
Despite having dreams to make it as a pro growing up, Howard, who describes himself as a big, bruising centre-back, admitted to himself aged 16 that football may have to remain just a dream.
His dad was a referee who officiated to a decent standard but Howard admits the lure of following in his footsteps had never really appealed. However at 18, and after a bit a cajoling from his father, Howard attended a referees course and started taking charge of local Sunday matches.
A natural aptitude for decision-making became apparent while he also found he was actually quite enjoying himself and the challenge of improving.
As he worked his way up the ladder, via the Sheffield Senior League and Northern Counties League, Howard also embarked on a career with South Yorkshire Police, first stationed in Doncaster and later as a sergeant in Sheffield. But having been appointed a FIFA official in 2005, Howard now concentrates full-time on football.
Fitness will be paramount in South Africa and with altitude also an issue Howard has trained at the special climate/altitude chamber at Sheffield Hallam University.
And Howard, who still lives in Rotherham, added: The World Cup is a magnificent event and Im looking forward to being part of it.
Obviously you are concentrating on keeping the game under control and getting the big decisions right but sometimes you see an outstanding pass or tackle and you have to congratulate the player who has pulled it off.