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Meet Pierluigi Collina, The Referee Who Had VAR In His Eyes

By Frank Ulom

Pierluigi Collina is an Italian football referee with lots of accolades to his name when it comes to football and the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).

He is said to be the only football referee who had VAR in his eyes.

Even in the modern day football when VAR (Video Assistant Referee) was introduced, no one has achieved what Pierluigi Collina had achieved. The fans loved him the players loved him and the game loved him.

Pierluigi Collina is one of the referee who could communicate in 4 different languages on the field; French, Spanish, Italian and English.

It was reported that before each football match, Collina studied the game and the players of the teams he would lead, and learned the names of the players.

During the 2002 World Cup final in Japan, Ronaldo (of Brazil) gave him his shirt and the ball. The players from Brazil and Germany had congratulated him on his performance.

Pierluigi Collina is also the only referee who has been on a video game jacket. Footballers had huge respect for him and even fear, just by his presence.

Meet Pierluigi Collina, The Referee Who Had VAR In His Eyes
Pierluigi Collina

According to Wikipedia, Collina was born on February 13, 1960, in Bologna and attended the University of Bologna, graduating with a degree in economics in 1984.

During his teenage years, he played as a centre-back for a local team, but was persuaded in 1977 to take a referee’s course, where it was discovered that he had a particular aptitude for the job. Within three years he was officiating at the highest level of regional matches, while also completing his compulsory military service. In 1988, he progressed more rapidly than normal to the national third division, Serie C1 and Serie C2. After three seasons, he was promoted to officiating Serie B and Serie A matches.

In 1995, after he had officiated at 43 Serie A matches, he was placed on FIFA’s Referees List. He was allocated five matches at the 1996 Olympic Games, including the final between Nigeria and Argentina where the former won 3-2. He refereed the 1999 UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United; he cited this as his most memorable game because of the cheers at the end, which he described as a “lions’ roar”.

In June 2002, Collina reached the pinnacle of his career, when he was chosen for the World Cup final, between Brazil and Germany. Prior to the game, Germany’s Oliver Kahn told the Irish Times: “Collina is a world-class referee, there’s no doubt about that, but he doesn’t bring luck, does he?” Kahn was referring to two previous high-profile matches that Collina had refereed which involved Kahn: the aforementioned 1999 UEFA Champions League final, a 2–1 defeat for Bayern; and Germany’s 5–1 defeat against England in September 2001. Kahn’s luck did not change in the final, and his team lost 2–0.

Meet Pierluigi Collina, The Referee Who Had VAR In His Eyes
Pierluigi Collina’s Jersey

He refereed the 2004 UEFA Cup Final between Valencia and Marseille. UEFA Euro 2004 was his last major international tournament, as in February 2005, as he reached the mandatory retirement age. His last international match was Portugal – Slovakia, for a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Estádio da Luz in Lisbon.

After retiring from Serie A, Collina refereed the Soccer Aid matches for charity in May 2006 and September 2008. During the latter of these games, Collina was involved in an awkward fall and was stretchered off after 21 minutes of play. He later refereed the first half of the 2010 Soccer Aid match.

His final competitive game was a Champions League qualifier between Everton and Villarreal on 24 August 2005. He announced his retirement soon after the game.

In his latter career, Collina was appointed head of referees for the Football Federation of Ukraine since 2010.

He was involved in the introduction and evaluation of the Video Assistant Referee system for the 2018 World Cup. During the tournament he pointed out the system’s effectiveness and later commented positively on its application.

Pierluigi Collina was named “The World’s Best Referee” by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) for six consecutive times from 1998-2003.

He was also the IFFHS All Time World’s Best Referee from 1987–2020.

He also won the Serie A Referee of the Year seven times: 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

In 1988, Collina met his future wife Gianna in Versilia. After living together almost from their meeting, they moved to the coastal town of Viareggio. Since their marriage, the couple have had two daughters.

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Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom is an experienced Journalist, Blogger and Writer with several years of experience. His stories are based on community development and have brought positive change across board.

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