Norfolk's Cann on top of the world

Norfolk's Darren Cann has been awarded the highest honour in the game after he was named as one of the match officials for the World Cup final in South Africa on Sunday.

Norfolk's Darren Cann has been awarded the highest honour in the game after he was named as one of the match officials for the World Cup final in South Africa on Sunday.

The 41-year-old bank worker, who lives at Poringland, will be one of referee Howard Webb's assistants for the game between Holland and Spain at Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium.

The worldwide television audience is expected to top 750 million.

Cann, Webb and the other assistant, Michael Mullarkey have been praised for their performances in previous matches at the World Cup .


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They were in charge of the games between Brazil and Chile and Slovakia and Italy and Spain's surprise 1-0 defeat by Switzerland.

Webb and his team were also in charge of May's Champions League final in Madrid, between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.

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The last time an Englishman took charge of the World Cup final was in 1974, when Jack Taylor oversaw West Germany's victory over the Netherlands - and awarded the Dutch a penalty in the first minute.

Webb also follows in the footsteps of Bill Ling, who took charge in 1954, and George Reader, referee for the 1950 final.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore paid tribute to Webb and his team, saying: “We see the hard work and professionalism of Howard Webb, Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey week in, week out when they are officiating in the Barclays Premier League.

“So, it is great to see their fantastic season, where they have already represented English refereeing in the Uefa Champions League Final, topped off with the ultimate appointment - the Fifa World Cup Final.”

There was some unhappiness among the Spanish press after Webb's handling of their defeat against Switzerland, who made him the scapegoat for the defeat - newspaper Marca gave him four out of 10 - but Webb's team impressed in Italy v Slovakia where Cann was spot on with a tight call to rule out a Fabio Quagliarella equaliser.

In the first knockout round match between Brazil and Chile, Mullarkey was equally praised for his decision to allow Luis Fabiano's goal while Chile defenders were claiming offside.

Yorkshireman Webb - making a little piece of football history in that he will become the first person to have refereed the Champions League or European Cup final and the World Cup final in the same year - has emerged as the Premier League's leading referee following the retirement of Graham Poll, the last World Cup referee from England.

Poll's World Cup in 2006 ended in disaster when he booked Croatia's Josip Simunic three times, while Webb himself suffered death threats on the internet when he awarded a last-minute penalty to Austria against Poland in Euro 2008 for shirt-pulling.

Uefa backed him - as did video replays of the incident - and chose him for this year's Champions League final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.

Webb, who is currently on a five-year break from South Yorkshire Police where he was serving as a sergeant, said earlier in the tournament: “It would be a great honour to be given the Final but it would be for all the officials here.”

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