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Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has listed the five greatest players he’s refereed during his career.
Clattenburg was hailed during his time as one of the best referees not only in the Premier League but in Europe as well, which saw him officiate the finals of Europe’s top competitions.
Clattenburg named the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, as well as Vincent Kompany and Gary Speed as the other great players he’s enjoyed sharing the pitch with.
Interestingly, when talking about Suarez, he likened the Uruguayan international to former Chelsea striker Diego Costa, as he admitted that the duo were both dirty players.
“My first game with him was for Ajax and he scored four,” Clattenburg said
“When I came home, I told my friends: “What a player, he’s unbelievable”.
“He had that edge to him, a dirty side like Diego Costa, but he had such talent.
“I was excited when Liverpool signed him because I knew what an amazing player the Premier League was getting. He played on the edge and you had to manage that.
“He would always give you the verbals in Spanish. But I’d refereed all over the world and I knew the swear words, so I’d give him one or two back. That would give him a shock!
“People talk about the laws of the game. Yes, OK, but refereeing, for me, is more about management of the game and the players.
“You have to try to help the product – the game – be the best it can be. You had to know how to handle players like Suarez. If you didn’t, it would cause you more problems down the line.”
Clattenburg officiated many games that Costa featured in and a number of them against big teams were highly controversial. In the 2015-16 season, Clattenburg was in charge when Costa ensured Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker was sent off. In the first leg meeting between the two sides, Costa also ensured the sending off of Gabriel.
Indeed, Chelsea have missed the impact of Diego Costa.