Danny Makkelie of the Netherlands has been chosen to referee the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final between Spain and Greece at the Lilleküla Stadium in Tallinn.
Speaking to UEFA.com ahead of Sunday's showpiece, the part-time policeman said the appointment was the realisation of an important ambition in his career. "When you are chosen to go to a tournament like this your goal is to referee the final," he said. "I have been presented with an opportunity to show those who have placed their trust in me that I can successfully referee a match of such importance and that my aim is to be a top referee in the near future.
"I know that Portugal's Pedro Proença refereed the 2004 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final and he went on to take charge of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA EURO 2012 showpieces, so that is all the inspiration I need."
Explaining that refereeing was "a calling" in his life, the 29-year-old from Dordrecht in the Netherlands said that he has had a whistle in his hand from a young age.
"When I was ten years old at school, the teachers used to ask us to referee games of football or volleyball and I liked doing that," he said. "It was a similar situation when I started to play for my local club. Sometimes there was a shortage of referees for amateur matches so I would volunteer. As the years passed, I saw that the players began to accept me in my role and one day somebody suggested I apply to referee with the KNVB [Royal Netherlands Football Association]."
Makkelie accepted the advice and went on to become the youngest official to referee an Eredivisie game on 19 September 2009 as Heracles Almelo took on Sparta Rotterdam. He continued to make progress and officiated at UEFA Europa League qualifying round games between FC Salzburg and SK Liepājas Metalurgs and Club Atlético de Madrid and Strømsgodset IF.
So far at this year's U19s Makkelie has taken charge of the group stage encounters between hosts Estonia and Greece and England versus France and he said that his time at the finals has presented an excellent opportunity to learn and hone his skills.
"I have enjoyed the tournament and have learned so much from the observers and also from my colleagues here," he said. "The final will be one of the biggest games of my career so far. The level of the players competing here is very high and the final teams – Greece and Spain – are fantastic. Both teams play with passion and are physically very strong so I think it will be a very good game."
In Sunday's final, Makkelie will be assisted by Yves de Neve of Belgium, Russia's Aleksey Lebedev and Swiss fourth official Alain Bieri.
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