When Mark Clattenburg opens his mouth, it’s usually worth taking notice of what he has to say.
The former Premier League official now works as Head of Refereeing for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, but he was involved in no shortage of controversial incidents throughout his career.
Indeed, back in December, he gave an interview in which he suggested he allowed Tottenham to “self-destruct” during their infamous Battle of the Bridge against Chelsea in 2016.
Those comments caused a stir to say the least, but he has dealt with far worse, such as when he was accused of racism by Chelsea following a confrontation with Jon Obi Mikel in the 2012/13 season.
There were less scarring incidents too, many of which he can now look back on with good humour.
Clattenburg has been reminiscing about his days in English football with the Daily Mail and what shines through from the interview is that he remains proud of how he dealt with big-name players.
THE LALLANA INCIDENT
In 2013, for example, he admits he told Adam Lallana, who was then still a Southampton player:
“You’re different since you’ve played for England. You never used to be like this.”
The Saints were so affronted by his words that they made an official complaint, yet it wasn’t enough to convince Clattenburg to eat his words.
“Well, he had changed!” he explains.
“He was a nice guy, I got on with him. After England, he was completely different, that’s my opinion.
“And I chose to have that dialogue with players, it’s part of managing the game.”
The incident took place in a game against Everton, which the Toffees won 2-1. The Premier League ultimately waved away Southampton’s protestations.
“An official insulting any player, no matter his intentions, is clearly not acceptable behaviour,” Saints spokesman Jordan Sibley responded at the time, per the BBC.
While it’s fair to say Clattenburg wasn’t exactly popular – let’s face it, what referee is? – most fans would at least acknowledge all that he achieved, taking charge of the Euro 2016 final and the Champions League final of the same year between Real Madrid and Atletico.
There was also a grudging respect for his handling of modern-day footballers, and it seems Lallana was no exception.