It’s hard to watch modern football referees and not miss the legend that was Pierluigi Collina.
It’s not the quality of refereeing these days that has us longing for the no-nonsense Italian, but the way in which most allow players to get away with so much.
The diving, the moaning, the ganging up on officials. It’s all rather tiresome.
But during his reign as the finest referee in the game, Collina didn’t stand for any rubbish.
Players feared Collina
Collina commanded the respect of players. Rarely were they brave enough to shout and swear at him, and those who did were suitably dealt with.
And it didn’t matter whether you were an average player or one of the greatest in football history. Collina didn’t care.
Collina took no s*** from Inter stars
It came when Inter Milan faced Roma. Roma had a free-kick on the edge of Inter’s area but Francesco Totti had to wait until his third attempt to actually take it because Inter’s wall moved early.
On the first two occasions, Collina blew his whistle and dished out yellow cards to Zanetti and Francesco Zamorano for encroachment.
Inter players surrounded Collina to protest, but they quickly backed away after he delivered a stern response.
Scrolling through the comments, it quickly becomes clear how admired Collina was.
“The only undisputed GOAT in football at his position,” one fan wrote.
Another added: “Best referee ever.”
A third said: “What a boss.”
Football misses Collina
Since his early retirement – Collina was just 45 when he stepped away – football hasn’t had such a commanding and authoritative figure in the middle of its biggest matches.
Collina was named FIFA’s ‘Best Referee of the Year six consecutive times between 1998 and 2013, and his popularity reached so far that he was the cover star of Pro Evolution Soccer.