Top 10 Best Football Referees of All Time

Iris | 07 - 26 - 2023

A referee is responsible for managing rules and regulations during a football match. They have the authority to decide disciplinary actions against players, start and stop the match. You cannot enjoy a football game without a referee. Who is the best football referee in history? Let’s look at the top ten greatest football referees ever. 

All-Time Greatest Referees in Football
Being a referee is a difficult task, they have to run continuously, watch the game closely, and provide appropriate decisions. Who is the legendary football referee? 

1. Pierluigi Collina 

Pierluigi Collina 

Who has the authority to decide disciplinary actions against players?
  • A. Referee Umpire
  • B. Chair
  • C. Umpire
  • D. Linesman

This Italian former football referee was treated with respect by the players. He received the ‘Best Referee of the Year’ award by FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) six-time consecutively from 1998 to 2003. He was nicknamed ‘Kojak’ for his distinctive bald appearance due to alopecia. 

2. Markus Merk 

German former football referee Markus received FIFA’s ‘Best Referee of the Year’ award three times. He debuted at the age of 25 as the youngest Bundesliga referee in 1988. He is also a professional dentist besides his referee career. 

3. Howard Webb 


Webb supervised various football league cup finals, FA community shield finals, and FA Cup finals. He officiated as FIFA listed referee from 2005 to 2014. He was a sergeant in South Yorkshire police before he entered into a referee career. 

4. Kim Milton Nielsen 

Kim Milton was taller than other international players and was known for his distinctive six feet and six inches height. This Danish football referee have been a part of 53 UEFA champions league matches and 154 internationals throughout his career. Apart from his career, he also worked as an IT manager. 

5. Pedro Proenca 

In 2006-2007, he was named the Portuguese Referee of the Year by FIFA. He was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and became a FIFA-listed referee from 2003-15. He managed the UEFA European Championship Finals and UEFA Champions League in a single year. 

6. Michel Vautrot 

One of the best referees from France made a funny decision at FIFA World Cup in 1990. He put on eight minutes of stoppage time in the semifinal between Argentina and Italy. Later, he said that he forgot to check his watch. He also refereed three European championships, the 1982 FIFA World Cup and the 1986 Euro Cup Final. 

7. Peter Mikkelsen 


Peter Mikkelsen stands among the top ten football referees who made history. He was a FIFA-listed Danish referee from 1985-96. At the age of 30, he led two matches at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. He died on 30th January 2019 after a long battle with cancer. 

8. Sandor Puhl 

One of the most highly criticized figures in Spain due to his negligence of not giving a penalty or card at the 1994 World Cup quarter-final between Spain and Italy. The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) named him the World’s Best Referee of the Year from 1994 to 1997. 

9. Oscar Ruiz 

Oscar Ruiz made his name among the greatest football referees ever. He led the three consecutive FIFA World Cups from 2002 to 2010. He was a lawyer by profession apart from his football career. 

10. Frank De Bleeckere
He achieved the Belgian Professional Referee of the Year seven times from 2000 to 2013. Frank De Bleeckere was the FIFA-listed referee from 1998 to 2012. 

Other most influential football referees of all time are Viktor Kassai, Bjorn Kuipers, Cuneyt Cakir, Mark Geiger, and more. All of them made significant contributions to the football game.

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