Iuliana Demetrescu – who referees Friday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final – is the latest in a distinguished group of women referees from Romania to take charge of an international final.
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Hard work and dedication are key words for referee Iuliana Demetrescu – and reward has come her way with her appointment to take charge of Friday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final between the Netherlands and Germany in Albena, Bulgaria.
The 29-year-old match official from Romania is following in distinguished footsteps as far as women's refereeing in her country is concerned – referee Cristina Ionescu and assistant Irina Mirt officiated at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup final; Cristina Dorcioman took charge of the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 final; and Teodora Albon refereed the 2013 UEFA Women's Champions League final, together with assistants Petruţa Iugulescu and Mihaela Ţepuşă, with Dorcioman acting as fourth official.
"I'm proud and happy," Demetrescu said. "I'm grateful for the trust that the UEFA Referees Committee has put in me, and it's also a tribute to the excellent work that the Romanian Football Federation and Referees Committee have carried out over the years in training referees. I'm really looking forward to the game."
Demetrescu, who comes from the city of Ramnicu Valcea, took up refereeing in 2010 as an assistant. She started as a referee in 2012, and then joined the FIFA international list as a referee in 2016. She will be accompanied at the Albena final by assistants Josefin Aronsson (Sweden) and Francesca Di Monte (Italy), with Reelika Turi (Estonia) acting as fourth official.
"I've really enjoyed being in Bulgaria for the finals, and my colleagues have become friends," the keen traveller said of her experience at the tournament. "It's clear that the training we've received here can only help me get better in the future."
Demetrescu will take her favourite music into the dressing room with her to help her relax and prepare for the final. "I'm not someone who likes to be too quiet before the match," she said. "So I'll be listening to the band Queen in the dressing room – I like their music very much.
"Then, just before the match when we're lining up on the field, I'll make sure that I'm feeling calm, confident and 100% focused, and ready to start the game."
The successful careers of compatriots such as Ionescu, Mirt, Dorcioman and Albon have helped to motivate Demetrescu on her own career path, but she remains determined to be herself as a referee. "I don't really have any role models, honestly," she reflected. "But if I see something a referee does that I think I can take, then I will.
"It's important for a referee to be well-prepared mentally and physically. You need a strong personality, integrity, courage and self-confidence – and you must always be ready to be self-critical if you want to get better."
Friday's big occasion in Albena is seen by Demetrescu as a step forward in her profession. "I like to take things step by step, and I would like to reach the elite group of referees," she emphasised. "But I know I'll have to keep working hard and developing to get there."