MARK CLATTENBURG: I couldn’t sleep until I whistled for the 2016 Champions League final

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MARK CLATTENBURG: I couldn’t sleep until I whistled for the 2016 Champions League final … I have never experienced so much agony before a match. You have to rely on adrenaline for such a big occasion

  • Being chosen to lead the Champions League final is the ultimate honor
  • But I have never experienced so much agony for Real v Atletico in 2016
  • I was terrified before walking out for the big occasion at the San Siro
  • Luckily I whistled well and was relieved when the game turned to penalties

To hear that you are referee for the Champions League final is the ultimate club-level achievement and I was lucky enough to experience that in 2016.

I was driving when Pierluigi Collina’s name flashed – I’m glad I stopped to take the call as I might have lost control after what he was going to tell me!

Collina was my boss at UEFA and said he wanted me to referee the final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid next month. Wow. I took it in my stride during the conversation, but I screamed and hit the air when I hung up! But then you realize: ‘Wait a minute, I really need to referee this match now’.

It was a huge honor to referee the 2016 Champions League final, but it was a nerve-racking experience

I was terrified walking to the San Siro for Real v Atletico and couldn't sleep the night before

I was terrified walking to the San Siro for Real v Atletico and couldn’t sleep the night before

The night before the game, at my hotel in Milan, I just couldn’t sleep. I went over my preparation notes and my game plan over and over again, how I wanted the game to breathe and not be too unofficial from the start.

Seriously, I’ve never experienced such torment before a game.

The tunnel at the San Siro is huge and I remember the nerves during that walk. I was terrified. You know that the examination of every decision will be different from what you have ever experienced.

I was tasked with taking on some of football's biggest agitators including Real star Pepe (L)

I was tasked with taking on some of football’s biggest agitators including Real star Pepe (L)

I also had to control some of the game’s biggest agitators, the ones who always gave you a hard time, like Pepe and Sergio Ramos.

I ran empty at the end. I remember saying to my team of officials, “Guys, help me, I can’t see!” The opportunity means that you are relying on adrenaline much earlier than usual.

It was such a relief to blow for the penalty shootout and I had made a good reference. We went back to the locker room and Collina gave me a big hug. The sponsors, Heineken, had also left us a case of beer – it never tasted better!

Luckily I whistled well during the game and was relieved when it ended in a shootout

Luckily I whistled well during the game and was relieved when it ended in a shootout

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