Austrian referee Konrad Plautz will take charge of the UEFA Super Cup between AC Milan and Sevilla FC at the Stade Louis II in Monaco on Friday evening.
Austrian referee Konrad Plautz will take charge of the UEFA Super Cup between AC Milan and Sevilla FC at the Stade Louis II in Monaco on Friday.
Plautz will be accompanied by three compatriots – assistant referees Egon Bereuter and Markus Mayr, and fourth official Fritz Stuchlik. The 42-year-old foreman from the small Alpine town of Navis is an enthusiastic director and actor with a local theatre group – the perfect antidote to the hectic round of domestic and European matches in which he has participated in recent years.
"Refereeing fascinated me in my childhood, and I started taking charge of matches as a teenager in 1984," he told uefa.com in a recent interview. "I looked up to such people as the Austrian referee Erich Linemayr for inspiration. I played as a right-back as a youngster, but I wasn't the greatest player to be honest and my interest in refereeing always took priority."
Starting with the youth sector, he began his rise through the ranks at regional level before heading into the Austrian national leagues. He said: "I gave myself the target of getting to the highest levels in ten years, and I managed to reach Bundesliga level in 1992 after six years, before getting my international badge in 1996." That memorable year culminated in Plautz being chosen to referee the UEFA European Under-16 Championship final between France and Portugal in Vienna.
Since then, Plautz has officiated at a host of important games. In 2005/06, he took the whistle for Arsenal FC's 1-0 first-leg victory against Villarreal CF in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. A veteran of two FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns, Plautz also has experience of UEFA European Championship qualifiers dating back to March 1999.
Plautz worked with both UEFA Super Cup contenders last term as they made their way to European titles – Milan in a 1-0 UEFA Champions League first knockout round second-leg success over Celtic FC in Italy in March, and Sevilla in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur FC in their UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg in London in April. He kicks off the new campaign with 24 UEFA Champions League matches on his CV and now achieves his half-century of UEFA fixtures.
Besides last season's Celtic encounter, Plautz is no stranger to Milan in the UEFA Champions League. On 14 August 2002, he oversaw their 1-0 first-leg victory against FC Slovan Liberec in the third qualifying round; on 19 October 2005, he refereed the Rossoneri's goalless home draw against PSV Eindhoven in Group E; and on 29 March 2006, he took charge of another Milan stalemate, away to Olympique Lyonnais in a quarter-final first-leg tie.
Plautz will prepare for Friday's game with his usual thoroughness. He said: "That doesn't mean you don't have butterflies in your stomach when you go out on to the field – I feel you need this to an extent to have the right motivation. You have to be totally present for 90 minutes. It's nice to be able to make a positive contribution to a match that is flowing, but you must never let your authority slip."