Bjorn Kuipers will officiate the UEFA EURO 2020 Final between Italy and England at Wembley this evening, but who is the Dutch referee?
It kicks off at 20.00 UK time at a packed Wembley Stadium to decide the trophy.
Much has been made in the Italian media of the refereeing in the semi-final, which saw England receive a soft penalty in extra time to beat Denmark 2-1.
The VAR in that game did not suggest a review and it is the same official in the booth this evening, German Bastian Dankert.
As for the referee himself, Kuipers is a Dutch supermarket owner from Oldenzaal, in the eastern Netherlands, and he turned 48 in March.
This will be his seventh major final after the European Under-17 in 2006, Under-21 in 2009, UEFA Super Cup in 2011, Europa League Finals in 2013 and 2018, plus the Champions League Final in 2014.
Kuipers tells his story of how he became a referee, having first been a frustrated – and thoroughly frustrating – 16-year-old player.
“I played football as a youngster, and I wasn’t the nicest of guys to the referees,” he recalls. “My father was a referee – he told me: ‘If you know it all better, then take a refereeing course and do it yourself. So I did, and it started from there. I’m eternally grateful for what he said to me.”
It would seem that Kuipers still has a bit of a temper, because Marco Verratti and Ander Herrera accused him of swearing at them during Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League defeat to Manchester City in May.
“The referee told me ‘f*** you’ twice,” said Verratti at the time. “If I say that to a referee, I get a 10-match ban!”
Speaking ahead of tonight’s Final on UEFA.com, Kuipers insists he values a good rapport with the players.
“The ability to manage people is vitally important, as well as having an understanding of football. If you can win the trust of players and spectators, it makes your job a lot easier.”
The official does admit there are some huge potential pitfalls for a referee and any error puts the rest of the game into the background.
“Full focus, full concentration from the first whistle to the last. That’s hugely important – you can have a good match for 90 minutes and take all the right decisions, and then something happens right at the very end that can spoil all of your good work.”