ITALIAN referee Gianluca Rocchi will take charge of England’s international friendly with Germany in Berlin on Saturday.
The 42-year-old, from Florence, will be the man in the middle when Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions face the world champions at the Olympiastadion – which hosted last season’s Champions League final – in their first international of 2016.
He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Lorenzo Manganelli and Filippo Meli, while the fourth official is Paolo Valeri, also of Italy.
Rocchi last encountered England as recently as September, when he awarded the penalty which allowed Wayne Rooney to become the nation’s all-time leading scorer in their 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifier win over Switzerland at Wembley.
He was also the man who postponed England’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Poland in October 2012 for 24 hours after heavy rain engulfed the National Stadium in Warsaw.
Both teams should be on their guard as Rocchi has issued six red cards in his last 10 games in all competitions.
Rocchi will also be remembered by Italian football fans for his handling of the Scudetto clash between Juventus and Roma in October 2014 – in which he awarded three penalties, sent off two players and ordered Roma boss Rudi Garcia to the stands.
The Uefa Elite Category official has officiated in Serie A since 2004 and been on the Fifa list since 2008 before making his Champions League debut a year later.
He has been in charge of several high-profile European games involving English sides – including Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Etihad in 2012 while he gave Arsenal keeper Woijech Szczesny his marching orders against Galatasaray in 2014.
Rocchi – who refereed at the 2012 Olympics men’s football tournament – was overlooked by Uefa for Euro 2016 with 2014 World Cup Final referee Nicola Rizzoli preferred as Italy’s representative among the 18-strong list.
He also appeared on the provisional list of 52 officials for the World Cup in Brazil two years ago but did not make the cut.
It will be his third England international but the first time that Rocchi will encounter Joachim Low’s Germany in his career.
The game forms part of both teams’ preparation for this summer’s European Championships in France and will go ahead despite the Brussels terror attacks on Tuesday, which claimed the lives of 14 people.
French official Stephane Lannoy was in the middle the last time the nations met as Per Mertesacker scored the only goal in Germany’s 1-0 friendly win at Wembley in 2013.