Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, who officiated the second-leg of the Chelsea vs Barcelona game in 2009 has made some startling admittance that cost the London club in the UCL match.
He is remembered for one of the most controversial refereeing performances in the history of the Champions League, and his name went down in the history of the tournament after that semi-final second leg.
On May 6 of that year, Stamford Bridge hosted an incredible game (1-1), in which the English side wanted four clear penalties.
He spoke to Spanish outlet, MARCA ahead of Tuesday’s UCL match in London, here are excerpts of the interview.
May 6, 2009. Are you proud of your performance that night?
“No, not at all. It was not my best day, really. But those mistakes can be committed by a referee … and sometimes a player or a coach. Some days you’re not at the level you should be. But no, I can’t be proud of that performance.”
Did you watch the whole game sometime after that night?
“I always saw the plays repeated a couple of times and learned from possible mistakes. But that game was many years ago and I don’t have to improve anything, since I no longer referee. I only remember that day again when journalists like you remind me so much later. I don’t mind talking about it because it’s part of my career.”
Chelsea claimed at least four clear penalties. What do you think was your most serious mistake?
“There were several errors and everyone will have their opinion of those plays. But, I insist, the players and the coaches also fail, and nothing happens. I am proud of having had a long career and having been in the European elite for a while, and among the best in my country at least. That’s why you can’t remember me or my career just for that game, although some people, like you, do so… unfortunately.”
It was a Champions League semifinal…
“Yes, it is clear that it was the return of the semis and everyone was aware of that shock. Only from that point of view is it understandable that many remember me for that day at Stamford Bridge.”
Remember the two handballs of Pique and Eto’o?
“Of course, and yes, they were handball situations. I judged them on the pitch and I think it is not interesting to know what I think of those actions once judged, although I understand that people think differently to the decisions I made at the time. That discussion will continue eternally.”