Howard Webb spent 11 years refereeing in the Premier League and ended up reaching the very top of his profession.
The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) would often assign Webb to the biggest and most demanding fixtures, while UEFA chose him to referee the 2010 Champions League final and FIFA picked him to oversee the World Cup final in the same year.
Since retiring in 2014, Webb has worked as the technical director of the PGMOL as well as a pundit - or sorts - for BT Sport.
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This week sees the release of his new autobiography, ‘The Man in the Middle’, and some fascinating excerpts have been published over the past few days - including the time Sir Alex Ferguson tried to force him to call off a Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United back in December 2009.
The Mirror caught up with Webb earlier this week and asked him to name the club, manager and player in the Premier League who gave him the most grief during his illustrious career.
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Webb: David Moyes gave me the most grief
The manager who gave him the most grief might come as a surprise. You might expect that it would be Ferguson or Jose Mourinho, but Webb named David Moyes.
“They can all be moaners, of course,” Webb explained, “but the one who gave me the most stick - who I felt held no love for the refereeing profession - was David Moyes. [He was] one who would be quick to criticise me.”
Craig Bellamy was a nightmare to referee
As for the player?
“The Premier League player who gave me the most grief would be Craig Bellamy,” the former ref added. “I struggled to gain a rapport with Craig. He might be a lovely kid away from the game, but on the pitch he was always quick with an opinion and didn’t want to listen to yours so much.
“But other players who you might think fall into that category - people like Joey Barton or Robbie Savage - who actually wore their heart on their sleeve,would give an opinion, but would actually enter into some dialogue with you - I found this quite healthy and was happy to referee those characters.”
Goodison Park was a horrible place to referee
As for the club?
It was a toss-up between Stoke City and Everton, but Webb went for the later.
He described the Toffees’ faithful as particularly “partisan” and said that not matter what decision he made, his calls were always “greeted with howls of derision”.
Is Howard Webb the best referee of the Premier League era? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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