England's divider of opinion - Euro 2012 referee Howard Webb

Goal.com profiles the 12 referees who will be in charge in Poland and Ukraine. Here we take a closer look at Englishman Howard Webb

Howard Webb is probably the only current referee who comes close to holding celebrity status. The bald-headed Englishman is just as recognisable as most of the biggest football stars on the planet.

And it is no surprise that the 40-year-old former police sergeant is a polarising figure, earning effusive praise for his work from some and being on the end of torrid abuse from others.

Webb began his journey to the top of his profession in the nether regions of English football in the mid-1990s and eventually made the leap to the Premier League as an assistant referee in 1998. He paid his dues in the Football Conference as a match official for a few years before earning a trip back to the top tier in 2003 as the main man in charge.

Webb became a Fifa referee in 2005 and is now accustomed to being handed the top matches on the world football calendar; he is the only man to officiate the Champions League and World Cup finals in the same year.

His rise to prominence has not been without its fair share of controversy, however.

Nigeria youth coach Ladan Bosso accused Webb and his assistants of racism after his side were beaten 4-0 by Chile in the Under-20 World Cup in 2007. Bosso thought that the first goal should have been ruled out for offside and hit out at the referees after the game. "After what happened on the pitch, to see the officials, Fifa has a long way to go to beat racism, because that official showed racism."


Games 48
Yellow Cards 156
Red Cards 6
Date of Birth 14/07/1971
Refereeing style Lets the game flow
Biggest match 2010 World Cup final Spain v Netherlands

Webb was then demoted to the Championship in 2009 after Manchester United's 5-2 win over Tottenham at Old Trafford. The referee awarded United a highly-contentious penalty after the Red Devils went 2-0 down and was widely criticised for his performance.
Assistant Ref 1  Michael Mullarkey
Assistant Ref 2 Peter Kirkup
Assistant Ref 3 Stephen Child (Standby)
Additional Assistant Martin Atkinson
Additional Assistant Mark Clattenburg

However, Webb bounced back and went on to officiate an incident-free 2009 FA Cup final.

It was clear in 2010 who the top referee in the game was, as the Rotherham man was selected to handle both the Champions League and World Cup finals.

Webb oversaw Inter's 2-0 win over Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu and earned praise for his efficient performance.

His crowning moment then came when he was handed the task of officiating the showdown between Spain and Netherlands in Johannesburg.

Webb had his work cut out for him, though, showing 13 yellow cards and one red during an ill-tempered affair, with some questioning his decision to let Nigel de Jong off the hook in the first half for a brutal kick on Xabi Alonso.

But Webb shrugged off the criticism after Spain's victory.

"We felt satisfied that we'd done a tough job in difficult circumstances to the best of our abilities.

"It was an extremely challenging match to handle. From early on in the match we had to make decisions that were clear yellow cards. We tried to apply some common sense officiating given the magnitude of the occasion for both sides."

After making his debut in the 2008 edition of the tournament, Webb will now make his second trip to the European Championships. Not for the first time, all eyes will be on the Englishman in Poland and Ukraine.