While the players of Liverpool and Tottenham head to Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano for the Champions League final on June 1 hoping to make headlines, one man hoping for a quiet night is referee Damir Skomina.
The 42-year-old Slovenian is a highly experienced official, having been FIFA listed since 2003.
He has taken charge of some of Europe’s biggest fixtures, including the 2012 UEFA Super Cup between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, which was won by the Spanish side 4-1 in Monaco, with Radamel Falcao grabbing a memorable first-half hat-trick.
He was called for action at the 2018 World Cup, where he oversaw Japan’s 2-1 group-stage victory over Colombia, Belgium’s 1-0 success over England and a last-16 encounter between Sweden and Switzerland, which was taken 1-0 by the Swedes.
This season, he is perhaps best remembered for awarding Manchester United the controversial last-gasp penalty that saw them oust Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League thanks to a 3-1 success at Parc des Princes.
Liverpool fans, however, may better remember him for taking charge of their critical 1-0 group stage success over Napoli; a match they needed to win in order to progress to the knockout rounds of the competition.
Remarkably, that was the first time in five Reds matches that Skomina has overseen that Liverpool have won. They were defeated in each of the other four fixtures, a home Champions League match against Fiorentina in 2009, then away games against Besiktas, Villarreal and Roma.
Jurgen Klopp’s side can be heartened by the fact that Tottenham’s experience of the referee is no better.
Spurs have failed to win any of their three matches that the official has overseen, though they have picked up draws against Anderlecht back in 2007, and Benfica in 2014. The only Champions League match that he has been the whistler for was the incredible 4-3 loss against Inter in December 2010, when a Gareth Bale hat-trick nearly salvaged a draw for the Londoners after they had fallen 4-0 behind in 35 minutes.