Today 13 February 2020 Pierluigi Collina turns 60. When you say "referee", very often he is the first person coming to your mind. With a special wish for his birthday, Law 5 Blog has translated a very interesting and long interview released by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
|After a glorious career on the pitch with many honors, now Collina is working behind the scenes as head of refereeing.|
Collina, how did you live your 60 years?
Too fast, like when you are happy about what you do.
How did you feel as number one in refereeing?
I felt very good, but expectations were always high. You couldn't take any single day of rest. I mean, you couldn't say "If today I will engange myself less than yesterday, it will be the same". On Wednesday Real Madrid - Manchester United in Champions League and then a serie B game on Sunday. It happened, and for me both were very important games, like finals. But yes, there is something I'm a bit regretted about...
If you consider all your games on a same level of importance, you live all of them in a too normal way. Therefore, the memories about a World Cup final, for example, are less distinct.
When did you say to yourself "I will become a referee"?
Maybe the day in which somebody said to me "You are good". Before that, it was sometihng made without a real belief, when I was 17 years old. Then after that I perceived that I had some skills. It became a challenge.
Who said "you are good"?
Many people. The first of them, the president of AIA department in Bologna, Piani.
You also played football.
Yes, if I had been a good player I would have continued without doubts that career. However, I enjoyed those years.
A day, a small-big drama happened. You lost all your hair. Did the world fall on you?
No, because at that time one of my best friends made the chemotherapy as well. We were similar. Unluckily, he didn't manage to win that battle. This has helped me in understanding the real value of the life.
Do you think your look helped in becoming more popular?
If there hadn't been qualities, people would have underlined negative aspects. Instead, it rather worked on the contrary...
What about the "perfect referee". Once, you said: "A referee can't be too wise, but a bit mad".
A referee can't be too much wise on the field in the meaning that he can't take a too long time to make a decision, sometimes he must be very quick. What we call "being impulsive" in normal life, for referee it is surely a skill. However, looking back at my career, I think a bit of madness was surely needed.
Can VAR help in deciding more quickly?
Referee must decide without thinking about VAR. He should join the field as it was before the introduction of technology. The main target about VAR is to avoid its use. For this reason, we work very hard and we prepare referees. Then of course, once a mistake has happened, referees know that VAR is there. However, if fans and journalists can forget about the mistake made, this is not for us. We remember it and we asssess referees as it was before.
You officiated without VAR. Are you regretted?
When I was referee, there weren't HQ - HD - 4K and 5k cameras, to be honest.
Would you describe yourself as perfectionist?
Somebody said that I'm even maniacal. Before a game, for example, I needed the maximum of positive tension.
And of course also much study.
I always thought that a referee must know everything about a game. Videos for analyzing teams and players, their way of playing, tactics and so on. When I was referee this was already made, but not so deeply like today. I think nowadays this is the key for success.
What about your relation with God?
A very private affair. And surely, a game can't justify certain things.
Did the criticisms bother you?
Yes. It was really bothering.
Also the fair ones?
Positive criticisms can become motivations for doing better, surely, but I must be honest and I admit that also positive criticisms were annoying for me.
How much importance had your family in your careeer as referee?
It is not trivial to say: "Very important, vital". For being at the top during the whole 90 minutes of a game, under spotlights, you must live a good life. All people you have around are crucial for that. I will be always grateful to my wife, because my children grew up thank to her. When my second child was born, I was officiating a game...
Now you are a grandfather.
Yes and my daughter is now waiting for a second child. We are really eager to know the gender.
Basket or football?
For me football is work and basket is entertainment. I was born and lived in Bologna, a city where having a passion for basket is common. On last Sunday, while my daughter was watching Milan's derby, at the same time I was watching basket on my phone. When Fortitudo Bologna plays, it becomes a bit stressful.
What would you do in case of two very important finals played at the same time? Basket or football?
I would watch football live, and I would record basket. First the work, then the pleasure.
Some referees who inspired you?Agnolin has been one of the best models for my generation. His way of being on the field, his "scenic" presence. But of course there were also other ones, for example the Swedish Erik Fredriksson, I was impressed by him during 1990 World Cup in Italy. Before that time, it was told to us to avoid to show with finger the direction of a free kick, then I watched him doing that and I started to do it as well. Nowadays, it is normal.
And after your retirement?
Many referees were good after my retirement. It was not important that they had to be similar to me. You can find quality in the diversity.
The most and the least polite player?
I don't want to mention names. At the age of 60, it is a pleasure for me to meet them again and to perceive that respect is not a formal thing, but something really felt.
Is there anything you wouldn't do again?
I would do again all what I did in my career. Yes, I made mistakes, for sure, but none of such mistakes happened because I didn't give my best. As long as you don't have regrets, you can be satisfied about everything you did.
Are you a SS Lazio fan?
I grew up in Bologna, when I was child it was common to be Bologna's fan. When I was 14, I liked to play football and I was inspired by Pino Wilson (SS Lazio player), then Lazio won the title. I liked that team. However, at that time I hadn't any interest in refereeing. It is impossible to think that a referee, a journalist, a player can't be fan of a certain team. But then after that you must realize that you become professional, so you become fan only of yourself. I officiated the play-out for demotion Bologna - Parma, in my city. Bologna lost and they were demoted. And SS Lazio never won in the early nine games I officiated with them. However, there is a question I still don't understand.
When people ask: "Do you prefer to see your national team in final or you to officiate such game?" Of course my answer, I'm honest, would be "Me to officiate that game". You work all your life to get this success, and so I think this must come before other considerations. But let me clarify: I'm proud to be Italian, no doubts.
Referee or head of refereeing, which job is more difficult than the other one?
As referee, you are directly "owner" of your future, as head of refereeing, your success must pass through other people.
You received also some threats.
Yes, let me say, who thinks that living under police escort is a status-symbol, should reflect on that. I spent in this condition the worst 7 years of my life.
What about your political ideas?
I'm oriented in "La Destra", Giorgia Meloni could be a very good leader.
1999 UEFA Champions League final. Manchester United with a fantastic comeback in last minutes against Bayern. Your thoughts?
When 1-1 was scored, I said to myself: "Well, now we will have another 30 minutes...". And I was afraid because it could have turned difficult for me, after a good performance during the 90 minutes. But then, immediately 2-1 was scored and game ended without extra times.
What would you expect in the next 10 years?
I would really like to go on with what I like: continuing to work for referees on the road to WC 2022 for men and 2023 for women. I would like to do even better than 2018 and 2019. And of course, to live these years with people I love.
La Gazzetta dello Sport