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4 referees who became unforgettable legends in football


When you watch football games, who do you focus more on? Chances are, you pay enormous attention to the strikers. If yes, you are not out of place.

In football games, the strikers are the center of attention. We drool over their fantastic goalscoring prowess, blistering speed, and spectacular dribbles.

The obsession with strikers is not exclusive to football enthusiasts. Even top bookmakers keenly analyze the form of a team's goalscorer when appropriating odds for fixtures.

Take, for example, a match between Man City and Man United. Before a top bookmaker like sportingbet assigns odds, their analysts will scrutinize the form of forwards like Man City's Erling Haaland and Man United's Marcus Rashford.

But do you consider the referee? Bookmakers do, but most spectators rarely do. We tend to forget that referees can make or break games too.

A critical error from a referee can mean your favorite team loses despite delivering an epic performance. With referees so important in football, which are some of the best referees in football history?

Nestor Pitana

When listing out some of the best referees from Argentina, you should definitely list out Nestor Pitana. This former professional football referee, Pitana, is known for refereeing many major matches in Argentina and internationally.

During his refereeing career, Pitana was only active in the Argentine Primera División league and the FIFA games. You should quickly remember Pitana as the referee who refereed in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2015 Copa América, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

So far, he is known to have refereed over four hundred matches and widely claims respect and recognition for his outstanding performance.

Pedro Proença

Pedro Proença stands as one of the best football referees from Portugal. This former top professional football referee, Proença, gained prominence in the Portuguese Liga league, which spanned from 1998 to 2015. He is also widely recognized as one of the best referees in the FIFA games.

While being a financial advisor too, Proença holds a few titles in the refereeing space, including being the first to have refereed national teams and the finals of the main European games for clubs the same year. Proença has also garnered a handful of accolades that set him apart from his pack.

In 2011, the Portuguese Football Federation recognized Proença as the Best Referee for the 2010–11 season. He was also named the 2006–07 Portuguese Referee of the Year. More honors include being named the "Best Referee of 2012" by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and earning a spot in the UEFA's Elite category.

Frank de Bleeckere

Frank de Bleeckere has been one of the dominating referees of all time. This Belgian former professional football referee started his career in the Jupiler League in Belgium in 1994. About four years later, Bleeckere made it into refereeing for the international games, which include the FIFA games and the UEFA European Football Championship.

You will spot Bleeckere making his refereeing debut in the qualifier match between Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He is also popular for refereeing Brazil and Mexico's 2015 FIFA U17 World Championship final.

Having refereed for over three hundred football matches, Bleeckere is one of the most respected and top football referees of all time.

Markus Merk

On the final spot is the outstanding German football referee, Markus Merk. Merk is one of the best referees in the local German league, Bundesliga. Starting his refereeing career in the Bundesliga league at 25 in 1988, Merk was known as the youngest Bundesliga referee in history.

Four years later, Merk began refereeing international matches—first the FIFA games and then the UEFA tournaments. During his refereeing career, Merk quickly rose to prominence and earned accolades that put him ahead of his colleagues.

In 2004, 2005, and 2008, the International Federation of Football History & Statistics ranked Merk as the best referee. Merk has also won the German Referee of the Year Award six times and holds the German Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) award for his service in football and charity work carried out in India.


Referees can be the heart of the match, too—an integral piece running on the football field to uphold law and order. And these football referees have shown us they were born for the job.

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