"A pleasure and a big honour" is how Slovenian match official Damir Skomina has described his appointment to take charge of tonight's UEFA Super Cup contest in Monaco.
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Slovenian referee Damir Skomina continues to make excellent refereeing progress, with tonight's UEFA Super Cup contest between Chelsea FC and Club Atlético de Madrid at Monaco's Stade Louis II the latest addition to a top-notch career CV.
Skomina, his assistants Primoz Arhar and Matej Žunič, fourth official Bojan Ul and additional assistant referees Matej Jug and Slavko Vinčič, are looking forward to the showpiece occasion which heralds the start of the 2012/13 European club competition season.
The 36-year-old from Koper, on the Slovenian coast near the Italian border, has been an international referee since 2003. He served as fourth official at two youth finals, beginning with the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship showpiece between Portugal and Spain in Viseu and then exercising his duties at the U19 decider between England and France in Belfast in 2005.
Since then, he has gradually risen up the ladder, numbering the 2007 UEFA European U21 Championship final, various UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League encounters, and two matches at this summer's UEFA EURO 2012 tournament among his key assignments.
Last season, Skomina took charge of one UEFA Champions League play-off game, three group stage matches, one fixture in the round of 16 and the second leg of the quarter-final between Chelsea and SL Benfica.
He also officiated in two UEFA Europa League encounters, including the second leg of the semi-final between Valencia CF and Atlético. His UEFA EURO 2012 assignments were the group games between the Netherlands and Denmark, and Sweden and England, as well as Germany's quarter-final with Greece.
"It's a pleasure and a big honour for me," Skomina told UEFA.com after the announcement of his UEFA Super Cup appointment. "It's one of the highlights of my career, I'm very proud."
Skomina commenced refereeing in 1992 as a 16-year-old. "At the time I played football, but because of some health problems the doctors told me that it would be better to stop. When I was about 22, they told me I could play again but it was too late – I stayed as a referee!"
If Skomina refereed to remain loyal to football, he says he had no concrete goals to climb the refereeing ladder – yet it soon became apparent that his qualities were such that international recognition would beckon.
"The most important thing for me is that I'm in good shape," Skomina said ahead of tonight's big match. "Psychologically, it's very important for me to be focused, to be able to be calm for the whole 90 minutes so that I'm ready in my mind to take a decision. It's important for the referees to have the match in their hands all the time."
Skomina and his team will prepare in their own usual way for the game in Monaco. "We try to stay as relaxed as possible when we're in our dressing room – we have a choice of music which we like." Gathering mental strength through mutual motivation has Skomina and company fully focused on the task to come. "It's essential that our minds are clear," he explained.
The UEFA Super Cup is the latest step on a fine refereeing path for Damir Skomina, but he is keeping his feet firmly and modestly on the ground. "I must say that I only go year by year, I don't have any long projects," he said. "I just try to focus on the next match and try not to think too much about the longer future – because we never know what may happen."