London: England's leading referee Howard Webb announced on Wednesday that he was retiring to become the technical director of the organisation that oversees professional officials in English football. The 43-year-old from the northern English town of Rotherham was a referee for 25 years and took charge of the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands in Johannesburg.
The Premier League revealed that he will now take over as technical director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which provides officials for games in the English top flight. "I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch," Webb said in a statement.
"I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house for Barclays Premier League matches, been lucky enough to be involved in nine major international tournaments, and taken charge of the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals. "Refereeing has given me so much and I think it's important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge."
The highlight of Webb's career arrived in 2010 when he became the first person to referee the Champions League final and the World Cup final in the same year. He also took charge of matches at this year's World Cup in Brazil, as well as the European Championship in 2008 and 2012. The Premier League said Webb's new position would include a "public-facing role informing and educating on refereeing matters".
PGMOL general manager Mike Riley, himself a former referee, said: "Howard has been the foremost referee of his generation and an inspiration for match officials in this country and around the world. "We are very excited that Howard's knowledge and skills are being retained and shared for them and the rest of PGMOL's officials.