Football

Webb savouring 'ultimate honour'

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Howard Webb has spoken of the "ultimate honour" of being chosen to referee Sunday's World Cup final between Spain and Holland.

Webb, supported by his assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey, will become the first English referee of a World Cup final since Jack Taylor in 1974.

Former police sergeant Webb, 38, told reporters in Pretoria: "We are delighted to have been selected for the game, it is a wonderful honour and a privilege. It is the ultimate honour for a referee."

He added: "We are proud to be representing the English FA as well as FIFA and all the other officials here at the World Cup.

"We will be proud to be able to show the ability and quality of match officials in England when we take to the field tomorrow evening.

"This is the World Cup, and it's massively important for the world. We understand the importance of the game and we will need total focus and concentration.

"We will try to be a calming influence where we can and use all our experience of being involved in big games."

The three fathers of Webb, from Rotherham, Cann, from Norfolk, and Mullarkey, from Exeter, will be at the Soccer City stadium to watch the game. The trio of dads, all former refs, have been at all of their sons' three matches of the World Cup so far.

Mullarkey said all three officials were close to tears when they were told they had been chosen for the final. He said: "We had not been chosen for any of the quarter-finals or the semi-finals so you do start to wonder about things.

"When we were actually told it was an incredible moment. When I was sitting at home watching the 2006 World Cup on television I never envisaged that I would be here doing the final."

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