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World Cup news

Webb not afraid of big calls

July 10, 2010

Howard Webb insists he has the courage to make the big decisions in Sunday's World Cup final - even if it means emulating Jack Taylor and awarding a penalty in the first minute.

Howard Webb
GettyImagesHoward Webb: World Cup final referee

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Webb, supported by his assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey, will become the first English referee of a World Cup final since Taylor in 1974 and said it was the "ultimate honour'' to be chosen by FIFA for the Spain vs Netherlands encounter.

Taylor made World Cup history by awarding Netherlands a spot-kick just one minute into the game - the first-ever penalty in a final - and then awarded one to eventual victors West Germany 20 minutes later.

Webb and his assistants spoke to reporters on the playing fields of a high school in Pretoria after their last training session before the final, and said the match marked the culmination of years of hard work.

The 38-year-old former police sergeant said all three would not flinch from making the kind of tough calls that Taylor did 36 years ago.

Webb said: "Jack Taylor is something of a refereeing legend. He's someone I've got to know fairly well and he has been a big supporter for me especially earlier on in my career.

"We have spoken about his career and he tells some wonderful tales and of course he took a big decision in the first minute of the 1974 final. Part of our job is to take those big decisions, and to take those courageous decisions at any time of the match, and to take the right decision."

Webb and his two assistants will become the first to have refereed a Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year, and Webb knows tomorrow will be the biggest match of his life.

He added: "We are delighted to have been selected for the game, it is a wonderful honour and a privilege. It is the ultimate honour for a referee. We will be proud to be able to show the ability and quality of match officials in England when we take to the field tomorrow evening.

"This is the World Cup, and it's massively important for the world. We understand the importance of the game and we will need total focus and concentration.

"We will try to be a calming influence where we can and use all our experience of being involved in big games.''