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I’m the greatest ref ever – I locked myself in before the 2002 World Cup final

LEGENDARY referee Pierluigi Collina once locked himself in his room for 36 hours before a World Cup final.

The Italian is widely regarded as one of the greatest whistlers of all time.

Pierluigi Collina said he locked himself in his room for 36 hours before the World Cup 2002 final

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Pierluigi Collina said he locked himself in his room for 36 hours before the World Cup 2002 finalCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
Collina was regarded as one of the greatest referees in football

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Collina was regarded as one of the greatest referees in footballCredit: Getty

Collina was known for his no-nonsense style and remains one of the most respected figures in the game.

In a glittering 28-year career of refereeing, he took charge of Champions League, World Cup and UEFA Cup finals.

The 63-year-old was named “The World’s Best Referee” by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics six times in a row between 1998 to 2003.

His invincible status was reinforced during his preparation for the 2002 World Cup final between France and Brazil.

The Bologna-born official asked for VHS tapes of both teams to analyse their style of play.

Collina told ESPN: “I remember when I was asked to referee the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany.

“I had to ask for VHS tapes of both teams. I locked myself in my room for a day and a half, taking notes and watching every minute of every match.

“Because the goal of a referee is to be one step ahead, to know what is going to happen before it happens.”

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“At the time, it was pretty unusual to prepare like that… but I’m proud of the fact that today this is normal prep for a referee.”

Modern refs are heavily scrutinised for their decisions on the pitch.

They pressure has arguably never been so high following numerous controversial VAR blunders.

One of this season’s worst was Liverpool’s Luis Diaz goal being incorrectly disallowed for offside against Spurs due to miscommunications from the on-field referee.

Audio from the control room revealed the officials understood they made a mistake but deemed it too late to reverse the decision.

During his interview, Collina admitted that the pressure to get things right immediately can lead to mistakes.

He added: “Sometimes accuracy and speed don’t go together. … If you want to be sure, it takes time.”



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