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Liam Togher looks back at why the Italian official was held in such remarkable esteem by almost everyone in the sport. Would you like to receive newsletters from Football Speakers? Rules were always central to Collina’s upbringing, as was an unflinching sense of fair play and the need for integrity to be upheld above all else. So much history politically, but also more recently in a football sense: the England fans were filled with trepidation. Pierluigi Collina is regarded by many as the greatest football referee of all time. ROME, Italy (Reuters) --Football will bid "arrivederci" to top referee Pierluigi Collina next year when he will be forced to retire under Italian regulations. FILE PHOTO: Former Italian referee Pierluigi Collina addresses the audience while participating in a meeting about the implementation of the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) on … Collina is Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ incarnate; the bald head, the steely blue bulging eyes that would elicit an icy stare, which could look into the very soul of a player and make them wither in his presence. Always the tallest amongst his friends and teammates, his physique made him an ideal candidate for his preferred position of centre-half, but as with just about all adolescents, there dawned the inevitable realisation that he was not going to make it as a professional footballer.

He covered everything. As a watching neutral at home, I was reassured that this game would be decided by the 22 players on the pitch and not by a refereeing error. The man from Bologna would be seen barking instructions to players who stepped out of line. Valencia defeated Marseille 2-0, a victory for the Spanish side that was partially due to Collina showing Fabien Barthez a straight red card on the stroke of half-time.By 2004, Collina had already been named the IFFNS World’s Best Referee a record six times between 1998 and 2003. When Collina reached the age of 45, the Fedarazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) took the unprecedented step of raising the age limit of referees to 46 so that the Italian could referee in Serie A for a further year as well as officiate in the 2006 World Cup finals. It was incredible. For a decade, Pierluigi Collina was the man tasked with controlling the egos, the tantrums and the frustrations of multi-millionaire athletes, all at the top of their game and all wanting to win at any cost. Pierluigi Collina Image: REUTERS Video Assistant Referees (VAR) must not show the “wrong idea of solidarity” by appearing to protect officials … At the time, Opel was also a major sponsor of AC Milan and the FIGC barred Collina from refereeing inAs the infamous Calciopoli scandal, which embarrassed Italian football in 2006 demonstrated, Pierluigi Collina was incorruptible. A booking for each team inside the first nine minutes set the tone by Collina and left the players in no doubt that the accountant from Bologna was going to referee the game and not the occasion.Destined never to referee a European Championship final, the only other big game missing from Collina’s was the UEFA Cup final, but in 2004 that gap was filled when he was awarded the final in Gothenburg. Such was the esteem with which every professional player held him, he is still the only referee who has been asked by a player – David Beckham – to swap shirts. One of Collina’s greatest achievements was to incur the resentment of Moggi after a number of decisions given against Juventus in that fateful season appeared to favour Juve’s opponents. He is a lifelong supporter of A well-loved official who has an extended ability as a When at corporate events, Pierluigi is known to cover the following topics:Former French footballer and director of football at FC BarcelonaThe Champions Speakers agency would like to keep you updated by occasionally sending you newsletters that include info exclusive free events, showcase and entertainment at venues such as The Gherkin, O2 Arena and Wembley. Collina only officiated in two group games, including the 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and Belgium. Would you like to receive newsletters from Football Speakers? Football has no right to be used as an analogy to war but, in that moment, Collina looked more like a military medic trying to ascertain the condition of his troops on a battlefield rather than a referee trying to complete a football match.Following the Champions League final, Collina was widely regarded as the best referee in the world. Moggi claimed that Collina was too “objective”.Since his retirement, Collina has gone on to become a non-paid consultant to the Italian Football Referees Association and a member of UEFA’s Referees Committee. This is an honour which is all the more incredible when put into context by the fact that he was admitted before AC Milan’s legendary full-back The most appropriate way to sum up Collina’s legacy is to quote fellow referee Graham Poll. The tournament in France gave the Italian his maiden experience of the biggest football tournament in the world. It was around this time – the man himself cannot pinpoint the exact moment – that Collina started to suffer from acute alopecia. B etween 1995 and 2005, one man seemed to be a constant fixture in the biggest games, from the Olympic and World Cup finals to the Champions League and UEFA Cup finals.

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