Nielsen earns final assignment

Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen will take charge of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League final.

Nielsen was born on 3 August 1960 in Copenhagen, and works as an IT manager. His first steps in refereeing took place in 1976, ten years later he was officiating at Danish top-flight level, and the FIFA badge arrived in 1988 when he was still in his late 20s.

Versatile referee
Consequently, Nielsen's refereeing career, including 134 international games, has been long and rewarding. His early experiences included a stint at the FIFA World Futsal Championship in 1989. The same year, he refereed in the UEFA European Under-16 Championship final round in his native Denmark.

Qualities recognised
In 1993, he went to the FIFA World Youth Cup. Nielsen's qualities were recognised by UEFA, who named him for the UEFA Super Cup first leg between SV Werder Bremen and FC Barcelona in February 1993, and the 1994 UEFA Cup final first leg between SV Austria Salzburg and Internationale FC.

Memorable 1998
Nielsen refereed the Russia-Germany match at EURO 96™ in England, and enjoyed a memorable 1998, first with appointments at the African Nations Cup in Burkina Faso, followed in the summer by the FIFA World Cup in France, where he took charge of two matches, including the memorable knock-out clash between England and Argentina in St-Etienne.

World Cup semi-final
At UEFA EURO 2000™, Nielsen was put in charge of the Germany-Romania and Turkey-Belgium encounters, although the latter match ended in disappointment as he was forced out of the competition with a leg injury. Three 2002 FIFA World Cup assignments culminated in his being named for the semi-final between Brazil and Turkey.

Appointments pile up
Over the past two years, the top club and national-team appointments have continued to pile up for him, and he will also go to Portugal as one of the 12 referees for the UEFA EURO 2004™ final round.

'Great honour'
Nielsen, who has made the most refereeing appearances in the UEFA Champions League with 44 appointments, told that he was delighted at receiving the call-up to take charge of European club football's most prestigious match. "This is a great honour for me, and I'm very much looking forward to the game," he said on Monday.

Normal preparations
"I think that an appointment like this is always at the back of your mind, because as a referee, it's important to set yourself goals in your career," he added. "I've been preparing for the game as I normally would for any other match, and I don't think there'll be any nerves on my part."