Why I usually disagreed with Mikel during Chelsea matches –Referee Clattenburg

Mark Clattenburg has refereed the world’s greatest players and taken charge of the biggest matches, including finals of the European Championship, Champions League and FA Cup.

But while there have been plenty of successes, there have also been challenges and a number of players proved tough for Clattenburg – and his peers – to handle on the pitch

Here, the Sportsmail’s columnist talks about the five most irritating players he presided over.

I knew my relationship with him was on sticky ground when he squeezed my balls in the tunnel at the Etihad, and I don’t mean my match-balls! It was a joke — I think — and I took in that spirit, but there was a bit of history.

Why? It probably goes back to December 2009 when Manchester City were at Bolton and I sent him off.

I had booked him for dissent — I could have shown a red, the language was that bad — and I then gave him a second yellow for diving, although replays showed it was a penalty. I was wrong. He went mental, as you can imagine.

But Bellamy’s reputation went against him with a lot of referees and I think he did lose the benefit of the doubt. I had said to one of City’s coaching staff at half-time in that game, ‘How do you put up with him every week?’

They reported me for that, which was disappointing. What is said within a game should stay there. If I reported everything they said then they would be banned from the dugout every other week.

But Bellamy was a nightmare to referee and most of us felt the same. He would snarl at you and throw his arms around, constantly challenging you. His language was awful, just plain rude.

As a referee, it is difficult when you have a problem player like that because you are drawn to him and it’s a distraction.

Because I’m a Newcastle fan, I had the luxury of never refereeing him when I started. I just wish he had stayed at Newcastle for a bit longer!

Mikel Obi

I have picked Mikel because of the incident during a Chelsea v Manchester United match in 2012 when he accused me of making a racist comment, which was not right and I was later cleared by the FA.

He has never apologised and that is disappointing because it could have ruined my life. I fell out of love with refereeing for a while after that but couldn’t quit because I had a family to support and no other career to pursue.

It all left a bad feeling that still lingers today.

Mikel only heard the allegation from his team-mate Ramires, who did not speak English. Other Chelsea players have since apologised but nothing from Mikel.

He had the chance to say sorry and speak to me about it during a Nigeria friendly in the United States before the World Cup in 2014, and I would have welcomed that, but nothing, sadly.

Courtesy: Daily Mail

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