Mark Clattenburg has officiated the biggest players in the world and taken on the biggest games, including the European Championship, Champions League and FA Cup finals.
But while there has been great success, there have also been challenges and a number of players have been difficult to manage for Clattenburg – and his peers – on the field.
Here, Sportsmail“Columnist” tells Craig Hope the five most irritating players he has chaired …
Sportsmail columnist Mark Clattenburg revealed his five most irritating refereeing players
I knew my relationship with him was sticky when he tightened my balls in the Etihad tunnel, and I’m not talking about my match balls! It was a joke – I think – and I took that spirit, but there was a bit of history.
Why? It probably dates back to December 2009 when Manchester City was in Bolton and I fired him.
I reserved it for dissent – I could have shown a red, the language was so bad – and then gave him a second yellow for the dive, although the reruns showed that it was a penalty. I was wrong. He became mental, as you can imagine.
Craig Bellamy tightened my balls in the tunnel – it was always a nightmare for the referee
Bellamy was completely rude and he was livid when I sent him against Bolton in December 2009
But Bellamy’s reputation has been against him with a lot of referees and I think he has lost the benefit of the doubt. I said to one of the City coaches at the end of the match, “How do you handle it every week?
They denounced me for that, which was disappointing. What is said in a game must stay there. If I reported everything they said, they would be banned from canoes every two weeks.
But Bellamy was a nightmare for the referee, and most of us felt the same way. He scolded you and threw his arms around you, constantly challenging you. His language was horrible, just plain rude.
As a referee, it is difficult when you have a problem player like that because you are attracted to him and it is a distraction.
Because I’m a Newcastle fan, I had the luxury of never arbitrating when I started. I just wish he stayed a little longer in Newcastle!
I have to start by saying that I worked with Roy for ITV at the 2018 World Cup and that he was a gentleman and pleasant to be around, proof that the players can be very different off the field.
Because when he was playing it was difficult to manage. Remember the incident with Andy D’Urso when he yelled in the face, this attempt to intimidate the referee is what he was.
I think it also comes from Sir Alex Ferguson. It was never about influencing the decision made with Manchester United, it was always about applying more pressure before the next one.
Manchester United legend Roy Keane tried to intimidate referees and wanted to be the tough guy
You also couldn’t trust Roy. You never knew if he was going to explode or do something nasty, like the tackle from Alf-Inge Haaland. It was a shame, it was premeditated.
He always seemed cold as stone and wanted to be the tough man. This causes problems for the referees because the ego comes into play and it becomes a fight, as it did between him and Patrick Vieira.
I once made a joke on a podcast that Roy intimidated me and it made the headlines, but I wasn’t. It was just a challenge for the referee – although he was in great company during dinner!
He was so irritable and never stopped, one of those miserable guys who would whine about everything and everyone.
If the ball was round, it would groan. If the balloon was white, it would groan. You might think, “Just rest.”
He was a great goalkeeper, but I honestly think it was a weakness in him and other teams have identified him. They would stand on his toes in the corners and he would react by pushing them.
Jens Lehmann constantly complained about everything and others would liquidate him
I knew the players were provoking him, but he probably had a chance to avoid being kicked and give penalties, as it would happen now.
But he was doing sneaky little things himself that made it difficult and I didn’t like the referee at all. He was erratic and his antics were not easy to manage.
Everyone is still asking questions about the 2016 Champions League final incident when I did this thing with my tongue as it rolled on the ground, playing the game. In my head, I thought: “How sweet are you to a great man?”
He did it twice in this match, trying to kick out a player from Atletico Madrid. Another referee may have fallen into the trap, but I had done my homework and, when you should be trying not to prejudge, I knew exactly what his mentality was like and I needed this knowledge to handle it.
He was another player you just couldn’t trust. A game could be easy and simple, so it would do something smart.
Ex-Real Madrid star Pepe was a liquidation merchant and you always had to be on guard
In this final, Real Madrid won 1-0 in the first half, but the goal was slightly offside and we found out at half time – it was a big blow and my assistant got it missed.
I applied a penalty to Atletico at the start of the second half when Pepe fouled Fernando Torres. Pepe was furious and said to me in perfect English, “Never a penalty, Mark. I said to him, “Your first goal should not have stood. That silenced him.
People may think it sounds strange, because two wrongs don’t make a right and the referees don’t think that way, but the players do. I knew when I told her that it would make her accept the situation better.
But he was a liquidation merchant and not fun to arbitrate a bit, you had to be on your guard all the time.
John Obi Mikel
I chose Mikel because of the incident during a Chelsea v Manchester United match in 2012, when he accused me of making a racist comment, which was not correct, and I was then whitewashed by the FA.
He never apologized and it’s disappointing because it could have ruined my life. I fell in love with arbitration for a while after that, but couldn’t stop because I had a family to support and no other career to pursue.
John Obi Mikel accused me of making a racist comment during a match, which was not true
All of this left a bad impression that still persists today.
Mikel only heard the allegation from teammate Ramires, who did not speak English. Other Chelsea players have since apologized, but nothing from Mikel.
He had a chance to apologize and tell me about it in a friendly match against Nigeria in the United States before the 2014 World Cup, and I would have welcomed that, but nothing, unfortunately.