He is 6’3″, weighs more than 15 stones, is just 35 years of age and is a skinhead. No, he is not a common gang leader in town but a truly sincere referee whose love and respect for the game is not inferior to any of the players that he controls during the course of a football match. English Premier League referee Howard Webb might not still be one of those stand-up-and-be-counted referees in Europe but there’s every reason in the world to believe that he will soon reach that zenith.
Like every normal schoolboy growing up in England, Webb had also dreamt of making it big as a footballer. But like several other normal kids, he failed to make the grades but instead of losing faith in the game and the love for it, the son of a former referee Webb shifted his attention to refereeing in football matches.
Howard passed the refereeing course when he was just 19 and started officiating matches immediately. He began to take charge of games dressed in black and inundated with confidence and optimism way back in 1989 in Rotherham. His strength of character and ability to control the players and their ever-bubbling emotions saw him through difficult times. So much so that the English Premier Leaue awarded his contribution to the standard of refereeing when they made him one of the officials in the Premiership. That was in 2003 when Webb was just over 30 years old.
Yet the trajectory of Howard Webb wasn’t without its low arcs. There were times when he was showered disrespect from people who didn’t have a clue what refereeing was about and Webb feels that such things ought to be changed. True, mentality and attitude towards referees must be altered not only in England but throughout the football world. The men-in-black do commit mistakes at times but nevertheless they should be shown more respect and we all need to understand that they are an integral and indispensable fraction of the sport of football.