Football

Webb proud of 'fantastic honour

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World Cup final referee Howard Webb said his MBE was "a fantastic honour" to round off an amazing year of achievement.

Webb, who was given the award in the New Year Honours List, achieved recognition as the world's top referee in 2010 when he was chosen to take charge of the two biggest matches in football - the Champions League final and the World Cup final.

The 39-year-old police sergeant, who is on a five-year break from South Yorkshire Police, said: "It has been an unbelievable 12 months and this honour tops off an amazing 2010 where everything just fell into place."

He added: "It will be a real treat to go to the Palace with my wife and family and it should be a marvellous occasion."

The Champions League final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in May was straightforward enough, the Italian side winning 2-0, but the World Cup final developed into one of the most challenging matches of Webb's refereeing career.

Holland's strong-arm tactics against Spain led to him showing 14 yellow cards, two of those leading to a red card for Everton's Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga.

Webb said he and assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey had been honoured to be chosen for the final, which Spain won 1-0, but disappointed at having to set an unwelcome record for cards.

He added: "I always say refereeing is about your team, and without the support and ability of my assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey I would not have been selected for the final, so this honour is for them too and it would be lovely if they could be recognised in a similar way at some point in the future.

"I look back on the final as an amazing and memorable experience.

"It was the highlight of my career and although it was a tough game to referee it will live with me forever in a very positive way."

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