Webb to referee World Cup final

The first Englishman to make it to the World Cup final since 1974 will take to the pitch on Sunday in the form of Yorkshire-born referee Howard Webb.

The 38-year-old former police sergeant, from Rotherham, has been chosen for the final by Fifa’s referees committee, it was announced yesterday.

Webb and his assistants, Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey, will officiate in the final on Sunday between Spain and Holland at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.

The last Englishman to referee the final was Jack Taylor in 1974.

Webb hung up his helmet and took a five-year career break from South Yorkshire Police in 2008 so he could concentrate on refereeing.

During the Euro 2008 games he caused controversy when he awarded a penalty to Austria in the 92nd minute against Poland.

He has refereed three matches in this year’s World Cup so far, starting off with Spain’s shock defeat by Switzerland.

He followed these with the Brazil v Chile game and Slovakia v Italy.

He started his career on the pitch by refereeing locally at the age of 19, following in the footsteps of his father, who was also a referee.

In 2000, at the age of 29, he was included on the National List of Football League referees and three years later he was selected as a Premiership referee. In 2005, aged 34, he received his Fifa badge.

Webb will make a little piece of football history in that he will become the first person to have refereed the Champions League or European Cup final and the World Cup final in the same year.

He has emerged as the Premier League’s leading referee following the retirement of Graham Poll, the last World Cup referee from England.

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