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REF OPENS UP Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg on his run-ins with Roy Keane, Jose Mourinho and 'diver' James McClean

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Mark Clattenburg is among the top referees who has been lost to the game in England (Nick Potts/PA)

Mark Clattenburg is among the top referees who has been lost to the game in England (Nick Potts/PA)

Mark Clattenburg is among the top referees who has been lost to the game in England (Nick Potts/PA)

He was in charge of some of the biggest games of the Premier League era and now former referee Mark Clattenburg has lifted the lid on his highest profile spats.

Speaking to Paddy Power's From The Horse's Mouth podcast, Clattenburg gave a compelling insight into how it feels to be on the end of abuse from the biggest names in the game, with Jose Mourinho, Roy Keane and James McClean all getting a mention.

Did any managers, teams or players hold a grudge against you in the end?

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Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho


Jose Mourinho did, in the end. He was hard work when he came back from Real Madrid, and well, I got him the sack at Chelsea. Well, he blames me for getting him the sack at Chelsea – but I would say it was more all of the results before that, too. When he went to Manchester United, he was thinking the same thing – I’m going to get him the sack, so he was always anti-me.

What was Roy Keane like to deal with on the field?

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Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA)

Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA)

Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA)

He used to shout and scream at you and sometimes you’d be like, woah, what’s going on there. Especially when I was a young referee, I was probably a little bit intimidated, but then the more I got to know him, you see a different side of him especially when he’s working as a pundit. When he was on the pitch, oh my god he was a player that you would never, ever trust because he would put a tackle in and as a referee, if you missed it, you were the one that got the blame - not Roy Keane for actually making the tackle.

It feels like you got quite a lot of grief as a referee, did you ever think about packing it in?

No. I left my job in 2004 – I was an election, and I left my job to become a referee. After a few years, you’re thinking, I can’t go back. So, you end up having to stick with it because there is no other industry. Once you’ve been out of your industry too long, you’re not going to go back. In refereeing, you can’t normally go to another country because it just didn’t happen at that time, so you end up doing it to pay the mortgage.

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Republic of Ireland winger James McClean

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean

Who’s the biggest diver in football?

I had a big problem and it would me up once, with James McClean. He was playing for Wigan against QPR in a play-off. Obviously a play-off is a huge game and they were winning 1-0. He went to go around Rob Green and I had a great position and I’ve seen him dive. As he went over, he’s looking for the penalty appeal for the penalty and I gave him the yellow card for diving.

He just turned around to us and he said, ‘So what? I’m a winger. It’s only a yellow card. But he said, if you give me a second yellow, you would have been killed. He was right. If I’d given the penalty, I would have been crucified and he only got a yellow card and that used to wind me up as a ref because you think, hold on, there should be more punishment for diving because it’s the worst thing in football.

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Do referees have a Christmas party?

Every year we used to have one, but it was so boring. They weren’t guys I would have a drink with. I made my bunch of mates up in the North, and then I had the referees, but they wanted any bit of money, but they were tight as anything! They wouldn’t even go to the bar to buy a beer. You would end up going to the bar and then you would turn around and there was 10 of them behind them waiting for a pint.

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