The career of UEFA Elite Category referee Howard Webb hasn't gone that smoothly, still it didn't take him long to reach the top. And the top was in 2010 with not only the CL final but also the final of the World Cup.
Howard Webb's father was a referee and it was he who made his son aware of a referee's course. Howard passed the course when he was 19 years old and started refereeing locally. He became a referee in the Northern Counties East League in 1996. In the year 2000 he was included on the National List of Football League referees. By then he was only 29 years old. Three years later he was selected as a Premiership referee. In 2005 at the age of 34 he received his FIFA badge.
Webb's first international match was the friendly match between Northern Ireland and Portugal (1-1) on 15 November 2005.
His first big international tournament was EURO U-21 2006 in Portugal. His first Champions League match was between Steaua Bucharest and Lyon (0-3) on 26 September 2006.
In 2007 Howard Melton Webb was one of the referees to officiate at the World Cup U-20 2007 in Canada.
It came as a surprise to many that Howard Webb was selected for EURO 2008 in Austria/Switzerland. Probably the FA has a big say in the selection procedure... At least it was good for England to have one (plus two) man present at this tournament.
Webb took charge of two matches in the group stage. With very controversial rulings in the match Austria - Poland, when he allowed an off-side goal and awarded a penalty to Austria in the 92nd minute. Resulting in hundreds of angry e-mails from Polish viewers asking WorldReferee.com for his address/ head. Of course we didn't oblige.
CL final 2010
The other top referees were either not so top or German or Italian. A few were maybe a little too young, unexperienced, one maybe too old (Larsen). And then there was the fact that neither finalists came from England, since long.
WC final 2010
It was a bit of a surprise to see Webb's name for the final. For some reason FIFA did not want a South American for an all European final (like 4 years earlier) and the other top refs had more or less failed (Rosetti, Busacca, De Bleeckere) or were too young (Irmatov, Kassai). Again Webb's name came up after crossing out the other ones.
Webb is selected, even though we hardly saw him in the Champions League.
His name is on the long list, but will he still be active in 2014? Seen all, done all.....