I get asked by many people about my refereeing idols and the names of those who represented the biggest influence on me picking up a whistle in the first place.
The truth is, it is impossible to single out any particular individual, although I will happily discuss all those referees who played a positive part in my career.
That goes for heroes and me in general, both inside and outside football: much like you will hear from players who retire and are expected to nominate a single dominant manager they are seeking to emulate once they swap the pitch for the dug-out, I choose to pick and choose my positives from the many people I have watched and worked with.
My reason for this is very simple: I think you should be a good original and not a bad copy!
One man I have mentioned in glowing terms here before is the Austrian, Horst Brummeier, who, aside from being a fine example to younger officials, made sure he was incidental to the action when Denmark beat the USSR 4-2 to clinch a place in the Mexico World Cup.
Even though, later in my career, I was lucky enough to talk with him, I did not make a habit of having an idol to track down, so the phrase ‘never meet your idols’ means nothing to me!
George Courtney was on my very first Elite group seminar and he always impressed me with his style. Another Brit, Ken Ridden, would travel to Denmark to assess me and I found him very supportive. He was also a visiting instructor and universally respected. I only heard good things from colleagues about Keith Hackett after he had refereed a friendly in Copenhagen, too.
Likewise the German, Volker Roth, Lars Ake Bjork from Sweden and France’s Michel Vautrot, who all went on to serve on committees and offered help or advice when I need it.
I found that what works for a tall guy may not work for a shorter guy, for example, in terms of how you use your personality to interact with players out there in the thick of it, and that was another reason for finding what works for yourself instead of taking every leaf from another referee’s book.
Take care to black out the temptation to imitate anyone and focus on being the best you can be, because as soon as you stop being faithful to your immediate surroundings, or get distracted, you could land yourself in trouble.
Again, I would find it difficult to single out anyone in particular whom I will be expecting to come out on top of the pile at this summer’s World Cup finals.
The Scandinavians are currently receding in influence, partly due to politics and partly due to having smaller leagues which tend to all start so late, and I saw that the Swede, Jonas Eriksson, did not help his cause by missing Danny Welbeck’s dive in the recent Europa Cup tie between Arsenal and Milan.
This situation is not going to improve overnight, if at all, and so, just like the UK, we must resign ourselves to not seeing one of our own in the middle out there in Russia.
If there was to be any single name you could force out of me, I confess I am as much a fan of Cüneyt Çakır as anyone. However, I wish them all as much luck as each other for a tournament when the scrutiny on them will be at its highest ever.
Until next time, vi ses, or see you later.