Herbert Fandel is looking forward to "refereeing a game between two excellent teams" after being put in charge of the UEFA Champions League showpiece.
Germany's Herbert Fandel will referee Wednesday night's UEFA Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool FC in Athens. He will be joined by assistant referees Carsten Kadach and Volker Wezel while Florian Meyer will act as fourth official.
The appointment means Fandel will have taken charge of both of UEFA's major club competition finals in successive seasons after the 43-year-old concert pianist, who runs his own music school, officiated at the UEFA Cup showpiece between Sevilla FC and Middlesbrough FC last May. "It is a great honour to be asked to referee this match - it was always a dream for me," he told uefa.com. "I think my experience will help me. I've taken charge of a lot of major matches in Germany and internationally, and I'm looking forward to refereeing a game between two excellent teams."
A father of two from Kyllburg, close to the Luxembourg border, Fandel has carved out a career in music, with the piano accompanying the referee's whistle as his passport to professional and personal fulfilment. "My music school is going very well, but obviously with a full football programme at the end of the season, there isn't the time I would like to run things," he said. "The feeling you get before doing a piano concert and the feeling before refereeing a big match are about the same, actually. You don't quite know what awaits you, but you prepare yourself in the anticipation that everything will turn out alright on the night!"
Born on 9 March 1964, Fandel started refereeing in 1979. He made his Bundesliga bow in 1996 and became an international referee in 1998. His debut at the higher level came at the UEFA European Under-16 Championship in Scotland that year and he has since been selected for the 1999 Meridian Cup in South Africa, the 2000 European U21 finals in Slovakia, the 2000 Olympic Games and the FIFA Confederations Cup of 2005.
Fandel's CV also includes 17 UEFA Champions League ties in a 69-match international career, as well as an Under-21 game between Italy and England in May 2000 in which Milan's Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo (who scored the penalty that clinched a 2-0 win) were in action against Liverpool's Jamie Carragher.
It will be the first time he has handled a fixture in Athens, though he is no stranger to these finalists. He has presided over Milan matches five times, beginning with a 2-0 home victory in the UEFA Cup against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in March 2002. He then oversaw three 1-0 UEFA Champions League successes for the Rossoneri - away to Club Brugge KV in November 2003, at FC Shakhtar Donetsk in September 2004, and at home to Manchester United FC in March 2005. This term, he refereed Milan's 4-1 triumph over RSC Anderlecht at San Siro - finally seeing the Serie A outfit concede a goal.
By contrast, he has never witnessed Liverpool scoring a goal. He held the whistle for their 2-0 defeat at Valencia CF in September 2002, plus the goalless draw at Chelsea FC in December 2005, and the 1-0 loss to FC Barcelona at Anfield in this season's first knockout round. Now he will take charge of the Reds in Athens and his most recent UEFA Champions League outing was at another Olympic Stadium. He was at the Stadio Olimpico for AS Roma's 2-1 win against Manchester United FC in the quarter-finals, with the same assistants that he will lead out on Wednesday night.