Mark Clattenburg listed the best stars he’s refereed throughout his career, and talked about supervising their matches. The English official came across some of the biggest names in the game when taking control of Top League and Champions League matches.
Among his long list are Cristiano Ronaldo, Leonardo Messi, and Luiz Suarez.
“The one aspect that I especially appreciated was Ronaldos’ willingness to raise his level while the team was down,” Clattenburg told The Daily Mail. “And I got on really well with him. He wanted to catch me to give me a hug when I went up the stairs to get my medal after the final Euro 2016-that was the amount of love we had.”
He continues to praise Ronaldo: “But I never treated him differently than any other player so I guess that’s why we’ve had a nice relationship.
“After one game, a jersey was brought to my locker room and signed: ‘To Mark, best wishes, Cristiano Ronaldo.’ I hadn’t really asked for it. It was such a lovely gesture.”
He compares this to watching Messi play. “When I first referred to Messi, I was shocked, honestly” he said. “It was Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain and, being so close, I recall thinking: ’Oh my God, this is amazing.’He was so qualified that rivals tried to stop him in numerous ways, often by fouling him with his foot, often with his upper body.”
Finally, he talks about another legend, Suarez:
“My first game with Suarez was for Ajax and he scored four. When I came home, I said to my friends: ‘What a guy, he’s awesome.’
“I was delighted when he was signed by Liverpool because I realized what a fantastic Premier League guy was having. He performed on the edge and you needed to handle it.
“He would always send you the verbals in Spanish. But I should have been talking all over the place because I recognized the swear words, and I would send him one or two back. That would give him a surprise!”
Clattenburg also confirmed Vincent Kompany and Gary Speed as the other great players with whom he had the privilege to work.