Nicola Rizzoli has lifted the lid on a confused Christoph Kramer and explained how he found out he’d be officiating the 2014 World Cup Final.
The Serie A official was handed the honour of refereeing Germany’s eventual extra-time win over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro, in a game that wasn’t without incident.
One of those in the first half involved 23-year-old Kramer having to be substituted soon after being caught in the head following a collision with Ezequiel Garay.
It was a change that as Rizzoli has revealed, came about after a bizarre exchange between official and player.
“Well, shortly after the blow suffered by Garay, Kramer came to me and asked: ‘Ref, is this the final?’,” Rizzoli has told the Gazzetta dello Sport today.
“I thought he was joking, he repeated the question and said: ‘I need to know if this is really the final’.
“At my ‘yes’, amazed, he concluded: ‘Thanks, it was important to know’. I advised [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and they replaced Kramer.”
Rizzoli reflected on taking the Final and how he wasn’t expecting to be awarded it.
“Being a referee is an endless passion. The World Cup Final, unforgettable, is just the latest step in an adventure that began 20 years ago.
“First I became a referee and then a man. That is why I have dedicated my result to all the guys who are just started - you will not regret your decision.
“I was hoping for a semi-final. It was a more realistic goal - a European [Howard Webb] had officiated the 2010 Final and the logic of alternating between the confederations had been in practice since 1990.
“How did I find out? I was sitting next to [referees Ravshan] Irmatov and [Pedro] Proenca when they were about to announce the referee for the final and I was looking at them expecting their joy. The Argentine delegate from FIFA went ‘Rissoli’, as if he were from Bologna. I did not realise right away , then Andrea [Stefani, one of his assistants] gave me a punch in the leg that nearly injured me. From the pain I realised that it was up to us.
“Certainly without my assistants I would be nowhere. And they are the best. The Italian school is a source of pride despite criticism from within.
“Just go abroad to understand how we are viewed. Unfortunately in Italy it ? I was wrong to give is fashionable to talk of conspiracy and we lack sporting culture.”
The Italian Football Federation are to discuss the possibility of introducing vanishing spray used at the World Cup into Serie A for next season.
“The spray was very helpful, as was the goal-line technology. I still think that the best thing is its integration along with the additional assistant referees.
“On the use of replays I do not know, now it is just a discussion.
“Can I make it to Euro 2016? We will see, I will have to work hard to get there - colleagues such as Rocchi, Tagliavento and Orsato could be at the World Cup without any problems.
“Retirement? We joke, as being a referee is the most beautiful thing there is.”