UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina talked about the huge challenge facing the 12 match officials at UEFA EURO 2012 and the key to the art of refereeing. As one of the most recognisable figures in football during his days refereeing at the pinnacle of the European and world game, there is no one more qualified to dispense advice to the men taking charge at UEFA Euro 2012 than Pierluigi Collina. The 52-year-old, who acts as UEFA's chief refereeing officer, knows more than most in the modern game about the art of officiating football matches and stressed to UEFA.com the important role the 12 men who will take charge at the finals will play. With a lifetime of experience at the highest level behind him, the distinctive Collina made it clear that anticipation is the key to cracking the refereeing code. "The referee has to predict, he has to be aware of what can happen maybe one second later," he said. "This is the best way to be ready to make a decision. If you are surprised by something, you are very probably wrong. If you know that something can happen, you are ready; it's very probable that you will be right. So this is the main difference." The relationship between player and referee is at the heart of the message that the Italian is hoping to get across to the current crop of men in the middle; a message of trust which he believes will improve performance for participants on both sides of the divide in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
Pierluigi Collina has also been answering questions from around the world via Facebook and Twitter. The 52-year-old Italian is currently deploying his vast experience as UEFA's chief refereeing officer, but found time to reveal the biggest influence on his career, the best goal he saw live and the stadium in which he dreamt of refereeing.
- Have you ever felt intimidated after giving your decision for a goal, card, etc.?
- No. It's not easy to intimidate me. I am joking, of course!
- What was the most ridiculous excuse a player offered you to stop you booking him for a foul?
- Sometimes players are very creative in finding an excuse. I will write a book sooner or later to mention some of the excuses but some of them were very funny.
- What advice would you give to a young aspiring referee looking to replicate your success in refereeing?
- I don't think someone should aim to replicate what someone else has done, everyone should be themselves. The only way to reach the top in football as a referee is to work hard and be ready to make big sacrifices because this is the only way to be successful and achieve success.
- Is there a stadium in the world that you wish you could have refereed at but never got the chance?
- There are some but I have been very lucky because I have been in some wonderful stadiums. I never refereed at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires, but I have seen Boca matches and the emotion at the stadium is very intense. So probably this is the one where I dreamt of refereeing.
- What is the best goal that you witnessed someone score in a game you were refereeing, Ronaldinho at Stamford Bridge?
- Live, the one that probably impressed me most was Ronaldinho at Stamford Bridge. The match was Chelsea v Barcelona and he scored in a very strange way using the point of his foot to find the corner of the goal from outside the penalty area. He shot when nobody was expecting it so this was one of the best.
- What do you think is the biggest challenge for the referees in the next five years?
- Football is changing and becoming faster. It's also becoming more difficult for the referees. So the challenge is to be educated to this standard, to continue or to try to be at the same standard. It will not be easy but the referees will do it.