Pierluigi Collina: The Best Referee in Football History

Pierluigi Collina is considered by many football fans to be the best referee in football history. His career and recognition confirm an impeccable career.

Who is The Best Referee in Football History

It is often said in a football game that when a referee goes completely unnoticed, he has done a great job. Unfortunately, they are usually at the center of the controversy of any party, especially if there has been some kind of interpretable play (or “gray”, as they are known in the jargon). 

The VAR, far from having scared away any hint of fire or controversy, seems to have shaken the shaker of controversy, although there is something that seems hardly debatable: the great injustices have disappeared from football.

However, the football judges would like to play an absolutely secondary role, with the spotlight focusing on the so-called “true protagonists” of this sport, the soccer players. However, throughout the history of football, a series of referees have appeared who have gone down in the annals of history and in the memory of the fans, either because of their eccentric character, as is the case of Iturralde González, or because of their his personality, like Mateu Lahoz. 

However, there is one referee who stands out above all and who continues to be remembered by football fans around the world: Pierluigi Collina. Such is his fame and career that he has been declared by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) as the best referee of all time.

The Beginnings of Pierluigi Collina

His attraction to arbitration came from his connection with amateur football and, specifically, with a dirty play within it. While participating as a soccer player, he knew all the tricks that were performed on him, so he decided to take an arbitration course. After passing through the Italian military service, he suffered a hormonal disease that made him go completely bald in a very short time, a physical aspect that has ostensibly marked his career.

His character quickly earned him the respect of the players in the lower divisions of Italian football, which caused him to make the leap from amateur football to Serie A, the Italian first division, in just three seasons.

Arrival At The International Elite

His character and command of 4 different languages ​​(Italian, Spanish, English, and French) stimulated his vertiginous international rise, which began at the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games, where he would referee the final, between Argentina and Nigeria. He would quickly be included as one of the great referees at the European level, which caused him to be included among the referees appointed to impart justice in the matches of the ’98 World Cup in France and Euro 2000.


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In fact, at the end of the 20th century, he was already considered one of the best judges, which would lead him to officiate the Champions League final of the 98/99 season, which would be played in Barcelona, ​​between Manchester United and Bayern. from Munich. During this final, he would have a prominent role, not because of his arbitration decisions, but because of the dedication, he had in consoling the Bavarian players, who were champions in the 90th minute and saw how United came back in added time.

The Zenith of His Career

The highest point of his career would come at the World Cup in Korea and Japan, in 2002, in a tournament marked by really questionable arbitrations, with decisions that always favored the local teams (Who does not remember the arbitration of Al-Ghandour, referee of the Korea-Spain?). Collina stood out for impeccable refereeing, even when he had to deliver justice in a match against Japan.


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Thus, the best moment would come during the World Cup final, played between Brazil and Germany, directed by Pierluigi with great success, showing only two yellow cards in the match, one per team.

All this meant that he was considered the best referee in the world, with great prestige and recognition even among fans. In fact, such was the charisma of the Italian that he was on the cover of Pro Evolution Soccer 3.

In fact, although the referees, due to age, have to retire at 45, Colina was granted special permission to referee for 2 more seasons.

At The End of His Career

However, Collina signed a million-dollar contract with the Opel car brand, which caused great controversy in the Italian Football Federation, since at that time, the German firm was the main sponsor of AC Milan. The Italian, who under no circumstances wanted there to be any stain on his figure, decided to step aside to retire with his image absolutely intact.

In this way, on August 28, 2005, Pierluigi Collina announced his retirement from the world of active football, although since then, he has been advising the Association of Italian Football Referees (AIA), in addition to being a member of the Referees Committee from UEFA.

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