Keith Hackett column: Champions League final referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz was my MOTM in Man City vs Chelsea

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Very few referees are given the opportunity to referee the Champions League final, and this year was special given that the game was between two English teams Chelsea and Manchester City.

The UEFA Referees Committee chaired by Italian Roberto Rossetti, himself a former top FIFA Referee, appointed Spanish official Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, born 12th March 1977.

Lahoz has been officiating in La Liga since 2008, joining the FIFA International panel of referees in 2011 and officiating at the 2018 World Cup.

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He has a reputation for being different to many other referees through his quirky approach of body language signals supporting his decisions, and communicating to players and other stakeholders in the game.

Yes, he talks a lot!!

I must say I personally have always liked this official’s approach and it was no surprise that he was appointed to this match. At the end he walked away from the game knowing in his own heart that he had delivered an exceptional performance.

The foundation of his top-quality performance was his movement around the field of play and the ability to apply an explosive sprint so important in the modern game.

Mateu Lahoz during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester City and Chelsea

I had worked personally with former final referees Howard Webb and Mark Clattenburg and both had this important aspect to their performances.

Proximity to play and achieving the correct viewing angle ensures that you are seeing incidents and applying the laws of the game accurately.

No better example for me was his positioning when he rightly turned down Manchester City appeals for a penalty kick late in the game.

What followed had me jumping off my chair when, with a distinct beating of his chest and then arm, Lahoz was telling the world “no, this isn’t a penalty kick.” Replays and a look by VAR confirmed that he had yet delivered another accurate and important decision.

He was also faced with the blocking offence by Antonio Rudiger on Kevin De Bruyne. After giving a helping hand to pull Rudiger to his feet, he issued the Chelsea defender with a yellow card while the Manchester City player was receiving extended treatment. The referee’s judgment was once again accurate.

At the end of a marvellous performance the referee shed a tear or two, his emotions overcoming him knowing that this was his last game wearing the FIFA Badge. He can be immensely proud of his achievements.

This was his last game at this level having reached the FIFA retirement age. Amazing when you consider that we have six referees over the age of fifty (with Mike Dean the oldest at 52) operating in the English Premier League.

Perhaps the hapless Mike Riley, boss of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, could give the Spanish referee a call to see if he might want to officiate some Premier League games?

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for
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  1. I totally agree! A brilliant example of a referee that put the game, and not her/himself in focus. He kept the cards in his pocket and when they came up, it was at the right time. What about a seminar for PL referees with this legend on the podium?

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