"I have finally reached my peak as a referee," Portuguese referee Pedro Proença told UEFA.com as he prepares to take charge of the UEFA EURO 2012 final at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv.
Portuguese referee Pedro Proença will set the seal on a memorable season when he takes charge of his fourth, and most important fixture, at UEFA EURO 2012 in Kyiv tonight. The 41-year-old also officiated the UEFA Champions League final on Munich on 19 May and told UEFA.com that being awarded the final at the Olympic Stadium is not only a privilege and an honour, but the peak of his career.
UEFA.com: Being awarded the UEFA EURO 2012 final must be very special for you?
Proença: Yes, it's an honour to have this chance and to be invited. For any referee this would be one of the best moments of his career and I really feel privileged to have been asked, both for me and my team. It's a sign of acknowledgement of the work we have done at this tournament so it brings us happiness that has to be shared with the two finalists.
UEFA.com: How does it feel having been awarded the UEFA Champions League final and the UEFA EURO 2012 final?
Proença: This means I have finally reached my peak as a referee. Several factors were involved in me getting here at my age and reaching the top level. I feel really satisfied and privileged so tomorrow I will try to honour the job, make the most of it and share the happiness with my colleagues.
UEFA.com: You have refereed a lot of these players before. Does that help you?
Proença: Luckily I have met a lot of the players over the years during UEFA competitions and, of course, football has a universal language. The behaviour of people of latin heritage is a bit different and we have a body language that makes us understand each other. I understand players' behaviour and the players understand the referee's behaviour. From this point of view it will be a bit easier for me.
UEFA.com: What does it mean for a Portuguese man to referee the final?
Proença: At the moment we represent the quality of Portuguese refereeing and I hope tomorrow we prove it on the pitch. It shows the work we Portuguese have been doing all this time. I feel satisfied and I know this feeling is shared by every Portuguese referee. I'll represent Portugal tomorrow.
UEFA.com: Can you explain a little bit about what you need from your assistants?
Proença: The referee is just the face of a team and I couldn't do anything if I didn't have these fantastic men with me. They're the ones who, at the end of the day, give me support and the confidence to decide what's best. Tomorrow is a prize which will be shared by many people, but most of all, by the people who will be with me on the pitch, these four fantastic men.
UEFA.com: What are your thoughts on UEFA EURO 2012 so far?
Proença: It has been fantastic. I really want to highlight the behaviour of every athlete and every player. They have shown extraordinary fair play. This shows the respect they have for the fans, the crowd and the people who watched them on TV. Unity and respect, which I think people deserve, was conveyed by players.