Pierluigi Collina is perhaps the most widely-known referee in the world today. The Italian with the distinctive look and refereeing style has taken charge of the biggest matches on the planet, and is eyeing up new challenges as part of the UEFA EURO 2004™ team.
Career: Collina was born in Bologna on 13 February 1960, and Viareggio is his hometown. A financial advisor, he has been a referee since 1977, took charge of his first Serie A match in 1991 and was awarded his FIFA badge in 1995. Collina's relationship with players on the field is almost without comparison. He keeps things in order with a calm smile or stern glance, and the players say they enjoy his presence. "I think that this is one of the most important things, because if you have good relations with all the actors in a match, including the coaches, it's possible to have a better match - the players can do their job, and the referee can control the match better," he says.
1996: One year after receiving his FIFA badge, Collina was on his way to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, where he refereed the final between Nigeria and Argentina.
1998-1999: In 1998, he was a member of the FIFA World Cup referees’ team in France, and 1999 saw his biggest European appointment so far – the memorable UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United FC and FC Bayern München in Barcelona. "I will always remember it for different reasons - first of all, the reaction of the United supporters when they scored their second goal, it was an incredible noise, like a lion's roar,” he remembers “Then, there was the reaction of the Bayern players - their disappointment as they fell down on the pitch after conceding that goal. The contrasting reactions of happiness and sadness, and the sad eyes of Lothar Matthäus when he looked at the trophy - all very unforgettable."
2000-2002: Three appointments followed at UEFA EURO 2000™ in Belgium and the Netherlands, and amid a host of big-game assignments, Collina achieved a lifelong ambition when he was chosen to referee the 2002 FIFA World Cup final between Brazil and Germany in Yokohama.
2003/04: Since then, Collina has remained at the highest level at home and abroad, and took charge of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg between RC Deportivo La Coruña and FC Porto in May, before completing the set of UEFA club honours by refereeing the 2003/04 UEFA Cup final between Valencia FC and Olympique de Marseille in Gothenburg. The Italian has another task at UEFA EURO 2004™. He is an official ambassador for the joint UEFA/International Committee of the Red Cross campaign highlighting the plight of children in war. "Children do not start wars, but often they are the ones who pay dearest," he explained after his appointment. "Their lives are shattered in times of conflict, and what we consider as normal or natural is no longer possible." In total, Collina officiated at seven matches in the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup final and three fixtures in the UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying round during a hectic 2003/04 season. He then officiated the opening match of the UEFA EURO 2004™ finals between Portugal and Greece in Lisbon, as well as refereeing two other matches during the tournament.
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