Pierluigi Collina: The Greatest Referee

  • Pierluigi Collina was the worlds greatest referee
  • He showed firmness, fairness and a human touch
  • All players had an absolute respect for him
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Pierluigi Collina: the greatest referee between the years of 1995 and 2005. The one man with a steady hand in the greatest of all football games. From the Olympics and World Cup finals to the Champions League and UEFA Cup finals. For over 10 years, Pierluigi Collina was the man entrusted with controlling the inner frustrations, the fits of rage and the tantrums of multi-millionaire competitors. And all at the highest level of their game and all driven with a need to succeed at any cost.

Introduction: Pierluigi Collina: The Greatest Referee

Pierluigi Collina was born to a mother who was a school teacher and a dad who was working in the Italian Ministry of Defense. He education was by nuns. To that end, rules were a constant  to Collina, just like the feeling of fair play and the requirement for respect at all cost. It was the stint in the Italian National Service that gave him an air of authority. This, along with his presence and force of personality would prove a powerful influence for the greatest stages of football yet to come.

Refereeing School

As a youngster Collina was like most youthful Italian young men. He harbored fantasies about being a top level footballer player. Because he was the tallest among his companions and colleagues, his build made him the perfect contender for his favorite position of center half. But as with so many youngsters, it gradually dawned on him that he wasn’t destined to be a great player. Or a player at all. Thus, on the guidance of a friend, at 17 years of age, Collina enrolled to a refereeing course.

A Miracle Kid

The Italian showed a natural inclination for officiating. Pierluigi Collina was turning into a miracle kid. It was becoming increasingly clear that he would be the next big thing, just not as a player, but as a referee. While still a young man, Collina began his obligatory military service but found time to keep on refereeing. His characteristic energy and role as a sympathetic, yet firm peacekeeper on the pitch soon saw him refereeing at the most significant levels of regional football.

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Pierluigi Collina: The Greatest Referee

Rapid Rise

By 1988, Collina had finished his military service and bought his experiences to the game. With his gift to apply calmness and serenity in the midst of mayhem, Collina advanced up the rankings at a rapid rate and was soon assuming responsibility for fixtures in lower level Serie C1 and Serie C2 matches. Today, you can check out all the football odds with Betsson. But this advancement was just a brief stepping stone to more noteworthy accomplishments.

Pierluigi Collina: Loss of Hair

Collina was to pass three seasons refereeing in the lower parts of the Italian top leagues, before being entering the giddy levels of Serie B and Serie A. It was around this time – the man himself can’t pinpoint the definite moment – that Collina began to experience the effects of intense alopecia. With his hair dropping out, Collina decided to embraced this change, with the combination of praiseworthy official and striking appearance now coming together to make a striking looking and formidable referee.

Maintaining Authority

“I am a man of the rules.” This straightforward saying may appear pretty obvious for a referee to follow. Yet as with all of Collina’s matches, this was the mantra by which he refereed. On the off chance that the guidelines were broken, then he quickly acted; if a player kept on testing Collina’s reasoning, the Italian referee would emphasize that he was absolutely holding fast to his rigorous standards, and the player ought to acknowledge that. The long and steady stare that often accompanied his certainty of purpose, would always cause the offending player to accept and walk away..

FIFA’s Top List

“You have to be accepted on the field of play, not because you are the referee, but because people trust you.” Pierluigi Collina’s sound bites are words of both simplicity and common sense. They convey with them a profound meaning yet are blindingly obvious when any devotee of football pauses to think about them. By 1995, and after just 43 Serie A matches, Pierluigi Collina was put on FIFA‘s top referee’s list.

Olympics 1996

Collina’s first big international experience was during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Here he officiated in five fixtures including the final between Nigeria and Argentina. After two bookings in the first 22 minutes, by which Collina set his authority, the game turned into a classic match with the African nation winning 3-2. The game featured many world-class players who would later get to know Collina.

World Cup 1998

After the Olympics, Collina took part in his first World Cup in 1998. The competition in France gave the Italian his first experience of the greatest football competition on the planet. He refereed in two group games, including the 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and Belgium. Online sports book news in the UK records that the most remarkable episode was the sending off of Patrick Kluivert for a raised elbow.

Champions League Final 1999

In 1999, Collina arrived at the peak of club football administration when he was to referee the Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich. United were pursuing the third and last trophy of a remarkable treble for an English club. But it’s what occurred during extra time that marked this game as one of the greats. As the clock ticked down, Manchester United were losing 1-0. Munich’s colors were being tied onto the trophy, when out of nowhere Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both scored inside three minutes of one another to verify the title. Some serious bets were won that day with Betsson. When asked about the favorite game he ever refereed, Collina consistently speaks of this game. He refers to the “mind blowing commotion which welcomed United’s goals as ‘like the roar of a lion”. He said it was the highlight of his career.

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Pierluigi Collina: The Greatest Referee

England’s Lucky Charm

Following the Champions League final, in which he proved himself to be an exemplary sportsman, through both firmness and kindness. Pierluigi Collina was now the greatest referee in the world. He was also quickly becoming England’s lucky charm over Germany. When it comes to betting on England, here is a list of online sports books in the UK. The Italian referee was in control during England’s 1-0 triumph over Germany in the 2000 European Championships. The following Anglo-German match saw Collina assume responsibility. This ended with England’s 5-1 destruction of Germany during a 2002 World Cup qualifier in Munich.

World Cup 2002

Though Collina only refereed three games at the 2002 World Cup, his third game saw him arrive at the very zenith of worldwide football. He was granted the honor of refereeing the World Cup final. Germany were to play Brazil and the best referee on the planet was to oversee the greatest game between the two greatest team. A booking for each team inside nine minutes set the pace by Collina. It also left the players with absolutly no doubt that the referee from Bologna was going to referee the game and not the event.

Pierluigi Collina: Awards

By 2004, Pierluigi Collina was the IFFNS World’s Best Referee a record six times between 1998 and 2003. He was also the Serie A’s Referee of the Year a record six times. The Italian would garner a seventh award in 2005. This collection of 13 distinctions, over a nine-year time span, shows his practical and mechanical consistency. It also displays a desire to be the absolute best at what he does. Each fiber of his being was encouraging the sport of football. And yet, at the same time, in the most understated and modest manner.

Sponsorship Troubles

When Collina became 45 years old, the Fedarazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) made the exceptional rule of raising the age limit of referees to 46. This was with the goal that the Italian could still referee in Serie A for a further year. Also he would be able to referee in the 2006 World Cup finals. Then in August 2005, Collina consented to a sponsorship deal with Opel. At the time, Opel was a significant backer of AC Milan and the FIGC banned Collina from refereeing in Serie A. They claimed there could be a conflict of interest. Such was the affront to Collina’s respectability and integrity, that he quickly delivered his resignation. And so Pierluigi Collina’s 28-year exemplary refereeing career ended prematurely and abruptly.

The Calciopoli Scandel

As the Calciopoli scandel broke during 2006, Pierluigi Collina proved he was incorruptable. Juventus general manager, Luciano Moggi was the first to investigate the preferential selection of referees during the 2004/05 season. As many officials became ensnared, just Pierluigi Collina and Roberto Rosetti stayed untainted. Probably the best accomplishment was to cause the disdain of Moggi. This was after various refereeing decisions were given against Juventus. After the game, Moggi exclaimed that Collina was excessively “objective”.


Since his retirement, Collina has become a non-paid expert to the Italian Football Referees Association. He’s also a member of UEFA’s Referees Committee. Such was the regard with which each top player held him, he remains the only referee ever to be requested to swap shirts….by David Beckham. In 2011, Pierluigi Collina the greatest referee, was admitted to Italian football’s Hall of Fame.

Conclusion: Pierluigi Collina: The Greatest Referee

The most respectful approach to summarize Collina’s legacy is to cite fellow referee Graham Poll. During groundwork for the 2002 World Cup installation among Japan and Turkey, Poll, who was the game’s fourth official, remarked:“He drew their line-ups on a board, he told us how they would play, who the fiery characters were, where the likely flashpoints would be, what each assistant might expect to happen on his part of the pitch. He covered everything. It was incredible. It was preparation to the nth degree, and furthermore, he wasn’t wrong.”

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