MARK CLATTENBURG: I was terrified before 2016 Champions League final

MARK CLATTENBURG: I couldn’t sleep before I refereed the 2016 Champions League final… I’ve never experienced so much torment before a game. On a big occasion like this, you have to rely on adrenalin

  • Being chosen to officiate the Champions League final is the ultimate honour  
  • But I’ve never experienced so much torment before Real v Atletico in 2016 
  • I was terrified before walking out for the huge occasion at the San Siro
  • Luckily I refereed well and was relieved when the game went to penalties 

To be told you are refereeing the Champions League final is the ultimate achievement at club level and I was lucky enough to experience that in 2016.

I was driving when Pierluigi Collina’s name flashed up — I’m glad I pulled over to take the call because I might have lost control after what he was about to tell me!

Collina was my boss at UEFA and said he wanted me to referee the the final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid the following month. Wow. I took it in my stride during the call but I was screaming and punching the air when I hung up! But you then realise, ‘Hold on, I’ve actually got to referee this game now’.

Refereeing the 2016 Champions League final was a huge honour, but it was a nervy experience

I was terrified walking out at the San Siro for Real v Atletico and couldn’t sleep the night before

The night before the match, in my hotel in Milan, I just could not sleep. I was going over and over my preparation notes and my game-plan, how I wanted to let the match breathe and not be over officious from the start.

Seriously, I have never experienced torment like it before a game.

The tunnel at the San Siro is huge and I remember the nerves during that walk. I was absolutely terrified. You know that the scrutiny of every decision will be like nothing you have ever experienced. 

I was tasked with handling some of football’s biggest agitators, including Real star Pepe (L)

I was also having to control some of the game’s biggest agitators, those who always made life hard for you, like Pepe and Sergio Ramos.

I was running on empty come the end. I remember saying to my team of officials, ‘Guys, help me out, I can’t see straight!’. The occasion means you are relying on adrenalin far sooner than normal.

It was such a relief to blow for the penalty shootout and I had refereed well. We got back to the dressing room and Collina gave me a big hug. The sponsors, Heineken, had also left us a crate of beer — it has never tasted so good!

Fortunately, I refereed well during the game and was relieved when it ended in a shootout

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