Popular referee of the English Premier League, Mark Clattenburg, has opened up that he once considered giving up on refereeing over the row “with respect to racism” with Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi.
Clattenburg was investigated after it was claimed that he made a racist remark towards Mikel in 2012.
While the Premier League official was accused of saying “shut up you monkey” to the Super Eagles’ captain, the FA accepted the player had believed the referee had racially abused him – but Clattenburg was found to have no case to answer.
But the whole incident, which Chelsea refused to apologise for, certainly took its toll on the 41-year-old, who was named the Referee of the Year this week.
Chelsea star Mikel was subsequently given a three-match ban and fined £60 000 by the FA for threatening behaviour.
In a rare interview, Clattenburg has spoken only about the incident and how it affected him.
“The mental strength of refereeing now is probably one of the biggest things,” Clattenburg told AP.
“It was a tough moment in life [in the aftermath of the Chelsea accusation], it was a tough moment for the family and the pressures were huge.
“The Chelsea thing happened in 2012 and it took me a little while to come back because I didn’t know if I wanted to referee or not because I lost the love for refereeing.
“If I look at the positive side of it, it has actually helped us to where I am now and how I am as a person because to deal with something like that allowed us to deal with a lot of other pressures outside of the game. It made me stronger.
“I am strong willed now. I do what I believe is correct. I’m a professional but I have to make sure I apply my personality to the pitch because you have to have personality and not robots. Players want a little bit of personality.”
Over the New Year period, Clattenburg has been appointed for just West Brom’s clash with Hull on January 2.