ENGLISH referee Mark Clattenburg will take charge of the Euro 2016 Final between France and Portugal, Uefa has confirmed.
The 41-year-old has been appointed as the referee on Sunday when the host nation contest the showpiece against the Euro 2004 runners-up at the Stade de France in Paris (KO 20:00 BST).
Clattenburg – who regularly officiates high-profile Premier League games – completes an unlikely and remarkable treble in the space of two months after handling the FA Cup and Champions League finals respectively.
He received a mixture of praise and criticism for his displays in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Wembley on May 21 and Real Madrid’s penalty shootout win over Atletico Madrid in Milan a week later.
It’s undoubtedly the biggest assignment and honour of his 26-year career to date, as he becomes only the third Englishman to referee the final of a European Championship.
However, the recognition is fully deserved for the Newcastle-based whistler, who has performed to a high standard so far in his three games at the tournament – his first major international finals as a referee.
Clattenburg – who was an additional assistant referee as part of Howard Webb’s team of officials at Euro 2012 – put in one of the best refereeing displays of Euro 2016 in Italy’s 2-0 win over Belgium.
He also dealt with a difficult situation well in the Czech Republic’s 2-2 draw with Croatia, when flares were thrown onto the pitch amid unsavoury scenes in the crowd.
The County Durham-born official has not been on the pitch since June 25 when he oversaw Poland’s victory over Switzerland on penalties in the first match of the knockout stages.
He was also the fourth official for Iceland’s 2-1 win over Austria in the group stages – his only previous trip to the Stade de France.
During the tournament, Clattenburg has dished out 13 yellow cards and awarded one penalty – which allowed the Czechs to level late on against Croatia – but he is yet to send off a player.
He was one of three British referees chosen among the 18 whistlers for the tournament but Scotland’s Willie Collum went home after overseeing two group games and England’s Martin Atkinson followed after his third match – Wales’ 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in the last 16.
Clattenburg follows in the footsteps of retired English colleague Webb, who took charge of the Champions League Final in 2010 before going on to receive the ultimate honour of refereeing the World Cup Final in South Africa two months later.
He will be ably assisted again in the French capital by linesmen Simon Beck and Jake Collin, and additional assistants Anthony Taylor and Andre Marriner.
It also means Taylor has completed an unprecedented quadruple of being the only additional assistant referee to officiate at all four of Uefa’s major finals – Champions League, Europa League, Euros and Super Cup.
The fourth official will be Hungary’s Viktor Kassai – who handled the tournament opener and was also fourth official for May’s Champions League Final – while fellow countryman Gyorgy Ring will be on standby as the reserve assistant.
Clattenburg is hugely supported and highly rated by Uefa’s head of referees Pierluigi Collina but is thought to be largely out of favour with the English Football Association, who don’t think he is the country’s leading official.
But David Elleray, the FA Referees’ Committee chairman, believes the appointment is deserved and his “astonishing” achievements highlight that England is the number one country in international refereeing terms.
He said: “One of the reasons that English referees are appointed to the world’s major finals is that they work as part of a very strong referee team – no referee can be successful without top quality assistants and, for Uefa competitions, additional assistant referees.
“I am sure everyone in football will wish Mark and his team every success on Sunday – I am sure they will perform in a way which enhances the final.”
The trained electrician – who supports Newcastle United – has a wealth of experience of high-profile encounters having refereed the 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic men’s football gold medal match, 2013 Community Shield and 2014 Uefa Super Cup.
The only potential obstacles preventing Clattenburg from being appointed was England – who were dumped out by minnows Iceland in the last 16 – and Wales.
He appears to have beaten off competition from Kassai, Milorad Mazic of Serbia, and Slovenia’s Damir Skomina – the only other referees remaining at the tournament who did not receive a semi-final.
Clattenburg is the second referee in succession to have handled the Champions League and Euros finals in the same year, after Portugal’s Pedro Proenca in 2012.
The game in Saint-Denis will be broadcast to a global audience of millions of viewers live on BBC One and ITV.