Referee Jonas Eriksson spoke to UEFA.com about his pride at being appointed for the UEFA Super Cup, what inspired his decision to become a match official and what motivates him.
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Having officiated in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League semi-final matches, Jonas Eriksson is well used to the big occasion, making him the ideal choice to take charge of the UEFA Super Cup between FC Bayern München and Chelsea FC on Friday evening.
Speaking to UEFA.com, the Swedish referee revealed his pride at being selected for such a prestigious match, his reasons for taking up refereeing in the first place and the driving factor behind his success, on and off the field.
UEFA.com: Jonas Eriksson, how much are you looking forward to refereeing the UEFA Super Cup?
Jonas Eriksson: A lot, of course. I've been refereeing since I was 14 or 15 years old and of course at that age you dream of officiating at one of the biggest finals – and this is one of them.
UEFA.com:You've already refereed some important matches in your career, where does the UEFA Super Cup rank among your highlights?
Eriksson: A final is a final – a winner will be decided. To be appointed for a one-off, knock-out match is always something significant. I try not to rate the matches in terms of importance, I'm just delighted to have been appointed for this match and that UEFA have put their trust in me.
UEFA.com:What inspired you to become a referee?
Eriksson: I felt a lot of referees didn't have the kind of communication skills I expected as a player at a young age – referees who could explain their decisions. Often they didn't have the fitness to be in the right spot. The quality of the refereeing was not good at the level I played at and I felt I could do better. They told me to do a course and do it myself – so I did.
UEFA.com:Who were your role models as a young referee?
Eriksson: I spent a lot of time with Anders Frisk, Sweden's top referee until 2005. I followed him to a number of matches as a fourth official, but I also looked at other referees. I don't think you could copy one referee. It's too much about personality, but I learned bits and pieces from Anders and I looked at other European referees, Pierluigi Collina being one, Markus Merk being another, Hugh Dallas a third. All of them had different skills which I looked at and tried to adopt and develop.
UEFA.com:How important are man-management skills when you're out on the field refereeing 22 players?
Eriksson: Of course it has a lot to do with man-management, the way you approach the players, the way you communicate with them and also prevent things from happening. You have to sell them the decision and get them to accept it. Sometimes you don't make the best decisions but you have to be very good at selling the decisions, otherwise you're going to have a very tough time out there.
UEFA.com: It must also take a lot of character and mental strength…
Eriksson: I think self-confidence and the ability to sell your decisions – that means looking self-assured and being able to convince the players that I made the right decision – is very important. If you don't have that personality and trust in yourself, I don't think you can do the job.
UEFA.com: As well as becoming a successful referee, you also became a successful businessman. What is it that gives you the drive to get to the very top?
Eriksson: I love football and I love to referee. Every week when I step out onto the grass I'm doing what I love most. I've had a fantastic life as a businessman as well, but since 2011 I've dedicated myself to being a professional referee and I'm having the time of my life.
UEFA.com: How are you and your assistants going to prepare for tomorrow's game?
Eriksson: We received the appointments a few days ago. I've been studying the two teams technically. These are two well-known teams, we’ve all seen them before. Of course there are a few new things – they have new managers for example – but we've watched previous matches. We had a preparatory talk today and we'll have another tomorrow. We've done matches together in our domestic competition, too, and we've been doing some training together too. We're going to warm up, take a walk around the pitch and look at various positions to enhance our cooperation for Friday's match.