On 10 September 2000, Pedro Proenca Oliveira made his debut game in the Portuguese top flight. The first match of the young referee was Desportivo Aves – Campomaiorense. In min. 17, Duka was the target of a yellow card shown by the referee from Lisbon, the first of eight that Proenca would show in that match. "The game went wrong”, he admitted later. Proenca was challenged by the fans of the home team and only managed to get out of the stadium two hours after the game, under police escort. After 14 years, Pedro Proenca has become a reference in international refereeing, accumulating presence in all major competitions. On Thursday, the 44-year-old referee from Lisbon announced what was one of the worst-kept secrets, "a decision taken in consciousness": the end of his career as a referee. Proenca justified the decision with the "physical and mental strain" suffered during his long career. Thus, a little less than a year of reaching the age limit, the last game of Proenca's career turned out to be Cruz Azul – Auckland City, which defined the third-placed team at the FIFA Club World Cup, last December.
"I would like to leave an image of competence, professionalism and credibility. While acknowledging that I may have been wrong on the pitch and suffering from these mistakes, I did everything I could to improve my skills", said the now former referee, ensuring that he leaves the arbitration with well wishes for everyone and not referring to the problems he had in the recent past with Vítor Pereira, the president of the Referees Committee of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF). In his speech, Vítor Pereira also did not refer to these differences, ranking the retirement of Proenca as "premature". In his good-bye speech, Proenca showed that he was pleased by the career. "I was in extraordinary competitions with the most talented players. Being present in big finals, as the Champions League and the European Championship, was a journey for which I and my team worked very hard. My deep gratitude goes to them”. Proenca may return to football and refereeing in the near future. "I am ready to contribute as necessary in support of refereeing and the Portuguese football", he said. But his immediate future, he added, will see him working as administrator and financial officer, and devote himself to academic teaching. Considered the best Portuguese referee of the century, Proenca stressed that it is time to "leave room to young referees" and that "the future of the Portuguese refereeing is assured".
Proenca’s retirement ceremony was held at the FPF headquarters and was attended by many personalities of the Portuguese football, including Luis Duque, president of the Portuguese League, Fernando Gomes, president of the Portuguese Football Federation, and old players like Pauleta and Humberto Coelho, as well as Luís Filipe Vieira, president of Benfica, Bruno de Carvalho, president of Sporting, Carlos Pereira, president of Maritimo. Porto was represented by Antero Henrique, Director-General of SAD FC Porto, who the day before had been expelled during the SC Braga – Porto for protesting against the referee Cosme Machado – the reason why the Braga Football Association was not present at the ceremony.
Referee since he was 17, Pedro Proenca rose to the first category in 2000, became international in 2003, with a presence in the final stages of Euro 2012 (in which he directed the final) and the World Cup 2014. According to the accounts of the FPF, since 2000, Proenca refereed 466 games, including 362 in national competitions and 104 in international competitions. The first division of the Portuguese league was the competition “most visited" by Proenca, with 179 games, followed by the second division, with 113. Internationally, he did 37 games in the Champions League, including the 2012 final, in Munich, between Bayern and Chelsea. The World Cup final is the only one missing from his CV.