Former Premier League referee, Howard Webb, has expressed his surprise that his colleague Mark Clattenburg, has decided to leave England and follow him to Saudi Arabia.
Clattenburg confirmed in February, that he would be replacing Webb as the Saudi Arabia Football Federation’s head of refereeing.
Webb says he did not expect him to leave until after the 2018 World Cup.
“I was kind of surprised, to be honest,” Webb said in an interview with ESPN.
“Mark’s on the shortlist for the World Cup, and I’m not sure, even now, how that will play out because I do know that he’s hoping to continue doing some refereeing out there in Saudi Arabia, and for now, he’s continuing the English Premier League. He had a game at the weekend.
“So I am kind of surprised he would go before the World Cup, knowing that it could, I guess, jeopardize his World Cup place but also understanding that he had an amazing year last year, the Champions League final in Milan, also went to Paris and refereed the Euro final. Wonderful, wonderful career.
“He probably got similar feelings that I’ve got — he’s been around a long time. Mark and I reached the Premier League more or less at the same time together. He’s had a wonderful career. Like me, he’s had ups and downs, but ultimately, he’s a guy who can look back on an amazing career with some wonderful achievements. Very talented referee, and the Premier League will miss him when he moves on.
“I guess he felt that he wanted a new challenge, that he wanted to move on to something new in the way that I did and go out at the very top. And I wish him well in Saudi Arabia.”