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Under-17 EURO final 'biggest moment' so far for referee Gidzhenov

Bulgaria's Radoslav Gidzhenov is excited to take charge of the 2024 Under-17 EURO final between Italy and Portugal in Limassol.

Radoslav Gidzhenov
Radoslav Gidzhenov UEFA

For some, the first step into refereeing can come a little later in life, but Bulgarian Radoslav Gidzhenov’s rapid ascent up the ladder shows the benefit of an early start.

Gidzhenov, 32, has already had some experience at a U17 EURO as a fourth official in Hungary in 2023, but following his impressive displays over the past year, he has been selected to referee the final of the 2024 U17 EURO between Italy and Portugal.

"I can't explain how I felt when I saw my name as the referee for the final," he said. "My eyes were full of happiness and I couldn't sleep because of the emotion. No doubt it's the biggest moment of my career.

"I’m feeling proud to be the referee of the final," he added. "It is a fantastic experience because these players are future stars.”

 Gidzhenov during the Under-17 EURO
Gidzhenov during the Under-17 EURO Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images

Blazing a trail

Having turned from playing to refereeing at the age of 19, Gidzhenov quickly rose through the ranks to become the youngest referee in the Bulgarian top tier at the time.

"My federation enrolled me in a UEFA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) programme for non-international referees, which was a fantastic experience, and I then became a UEFA referee.

"In 2023, I was invited by UEFA to the Under-17 finals in Hungary as a fourth official, and officiated one match as a referee. Now I’m in Cyprus as a referee – it has been a fantastic appointment for me and a tournament I’ll never forget.

"Every day I get up, I’m thinking about refereeing," said Gidzhenov. "Refereeing is my passion. I love being a referee and I do my best."

“Thank you to UEFA, to the Referees Committee and to the Bulgarian federation for trusting me. I'm from Bulgaria, a small country, but in UEFA, every referee has a chance if he works hard.”

2024 UEFA Under-17 EURO final referee Radoslav Gidzhenov

Fully focused on the final

Despite his impressive progress, Gidzhenov remains firmly focused on the job at hand.

"The most important thing now is to focus on the final match," he said. "I don't think too far ahead. I’m focused on the final and I’ll do my best. Refereeing the Under-17s, there is a different style compared to senior football, but in every match, I try to be myself, to be calm and I don't want to do anything extra."

Check out UEFA’s Be a Referee! campaign, which aims to increase knowledge about refereeing, highlight the importance of referees for the game and inspire young people start a career as a match official.

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