New Zealand referee Peter O'Leary, 43, announced today his retirement from the professional game. After nearly 21 years as a referee, O'Leary made the decision recently to be able to spend more time with his family.
"Having been a professional referee for the past 15 years now seems to be the right time to check out of the game", O'Leary said. "It takes a lot more work now to prepare compared when I was younger and there are plenty of good young referees coming through the ranks. I have taken my opportunities throughout my career and achieved everything that I have wanted to in the game. The friendships that I have made through football over the years have made the journey so much better. But I won't be leaving the game altogether and I am looking forward to putting something back in once I hang up the whistle." O'Leary also works as a Northland science teacher and became the second New Zealander to referee a World Cup game when he controlled the controversial clash between Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brazil last year.
O'Leary began his referee career in 1994 after switching from the playing ranks at the age of 21. He received his FIFA Referee badge in 2003 and was subsequently appointed to matches the U-20 World Cup, the Club World Cup and, in 2010 and 2014, the holy grail of the World Cup. His second appearance at that tournament ended in controversy. O'Leary received death threats from irate Bosnian fans after a goal by star striker Dzeko was wrongfully disallowed for offside as his side were knocked out of the tournament.
Peter O'Leary also had the honour of refereeing the first ever A-League match between the Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United in 2005, with Football Federation Australia director of referees Ben Wilson paying tribute to O'Leary for his contribution. "I have known Peter as a friend and colleague for over 15 years", said Football Federation Australia Director of Referees Ben Wilson. "He is the archetypal quiet achiever. A safe pair of hands with plenty of experience who was always willing and able to put his hand up when required. A strong performer in the Hyundai A-League, who is well respected by the players, coaches and his fellow referees. His experience and personality will be sorely missed by all with in the football community".
O'Leary's 64th and final appointment in the A-League will be Friday night's fixture between the Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium.
Source: New Zealand Herald