Utter the identify Tom Henning Ovrebo to any Chelsea fan and you’ll probably obtain a livid tirade affected by conspiracy theories to your troubles.
Precisely 13 years have handed since Ovrebo cemented lifelong villain standing at Stamford Bridge, the scene of his most notorious refereeing crime. Although for Blues supporters the evening in query stays a sore topic.
On Might 6, 2009, Chelsea welcomed Barcelona to west London for a vital Champions League semi-final second leg, with the mixture rating locked at 0-0 following a stalemate within the first. That quickly modified when Michael Essien looped house a spectacular volley after 9 minutes, firing the hosts forward and elevating the roof in SW6.
Tom Henning Ovrebo cemented lifelong villain standing at Chelsea on the evening of Might 6, 2009
The Blues’ notorious Champions League semi-final towards Barcelona stays a sore topic
But, within the long-forgotten days of the away-goal rule, Barcelona solely wanted an equaliser to progress to the ultimate. Chelsea, looking a second consecutive look within the European showpiece, had been due to this fact determined so as to add a second and provides themselves respiratory area.
Sadly for Guus Hiddink’s males that two-goal cushion by no means got here, albeit in extremely contentious vogue. Over the course of the subsequent hour, Ovrebo by some means waved away three credible Chelsea penalty appeals to the bemusement of an more and more boisterous house crowd.
And to shine an excellent brighter highlight on the Norwegian official’s choices, Andres Iniesta then struck within the dying minutes to interrupt Blues hearts.
‘I am certain the top of the match would have been a lot simpler for us as a refereeing staff if that aim had not been scored,’ Ovrebo admits throughout a dialog with Sportsmail.
‘Chelsea would have gone by way of to the ultimate and their supporters would have gone to the pub and mentioned, “perhaps we should always have had one or two or three or 4 or 5 – 6 penalties… but it surely does not matter tonight as a result of we’re by way of to the ultimate.”
Michael Essien broke the impasse for them at Stamford Bridge with a spectacular volley
Chelsea then noticed plenty of credible penalty appeals waved away by Ovrebo on the evening
After his controversial calls, Andres Iniesta struck late on to ship Barcelona to the ultimate
‘After all, as a referee a aim like that creates extra dialogue and extra reactions and extra controversies across the choices you have got already made within the match.’
The primary of Chelsea’s varied penalty appeals got here as early because the twenty fourth minute. Florent Malouda raced in the direction of the byline earlier than reducing again simply inside Barcelona’s field, the place he was then felled by Dani Alves. As a substitute of pointing to the spot, nonetheless, Ovrebo awarded a free-kick which in the end got here to nothing.
Merely three minutes later and the Bridge devoted had been demanding one other, this time when Didier Drogba went down underneath a problem from Eric Abidal after being launched within the field. However once more, Ovrebo refused to buckle and Chelsea’s protests fell on deaf ears for a second time in fast succession.
By this level Stamford Bridge had boiled right into a raging pot of fury, with incensed supporters directing their outrage in the direction of Ovrebo and his officiating staff. So did the hostile environment throw him off his sport?
‘It might begin to get into your head,’ he concedes, ‘but it surely’s essential for a referee and a referee staff to have laser-like focus. That is not simple on a regular basis, however for us it is concerning the subsequent scenario and you may’t suppose an excessive amount of concerning the scenario that handed already.
Ovrebo ignored plenty of potential spot-kicks, together with when Eric Abidal pulled down Didier Drogba contained in the field
Drogba and his fellow Blues had been in disbelief when their appeals had been regularly waved away
‘It was essential to maintain our focus and to proceed to remain concentrated and attentive. After all, you may at all times really feel the stress within the match and within the stands, however that is part of the sport and the environment is at all times good in matches like this.’
If Ovrebo felt the environment was good early on, by the point he blew his last whistle it was something however that.
Contained in the closing 10 minutes, Chelsea anger grew to become disbelief when Gerard Pique dealt with the ball in Barcelona’s space so clearly he could as nicely have been dribbling a basketball. As soon as extra, although, an uninterested Ovrebo didn’t see match to award a penalty.
Even after Iniesta’s dramatic winner there was room for extra controversy. As Chelsea frantically looked for a response, Barcelona cleared a nook straight to the ft of Michael Ballack, whose last-gasp shot at aim seemed to have been blocked by the arm of Samuel Eto’o.
Once more they known as for a penalty and once more Ovrebo, now firmly public enemy No 1, refused to bow to the stress late on. The picture of a berserk Ballack chasing, pushing and shouting on the referee stays synonymous with a match Jose Mourinho later branded ‘the scandal of Stamford Bridge’.
When the full-time whistle ultimately sounded Chelsea gamers wasted no time in making a beeline for Ovrebo. Didier Drogba memorably bellowed ‘it is a f****** shame’ straight down the lens of a tv digicam. And whereas he’s adamant not all of their appeals had been legitimate, Ovrebo accepts not less than one spot-kick ought to have been given.
The picture of Michael Ballack chasing the referee is synonymous with the controversial sport
Ballack was left incensed when one other penalty attraction after Iniesta’s winner was ignored
A seething Drogba made a beeline for Ovrebo as quickly as he blew his full-time whistle
The Ivorian striker later bellowed ‘it is a f****** shame’ down the lense of a tv digicam
Ovrebo admits Chelsea’s protests could have influenced him to not ‘be fooled’ into giving in
‘I do not suppose the Chelsea supporters are right once they declare 4 of 5 penalties, however I believe all people that is aware of soccer and the legal guidelines of the sport is aware of there ought to have been a penalty given,’ he says.
‘That occurs, particularly earlier than VAR. Typically you miss a penalty, typically you miss a pink card or a vital resolution. And I believe all people that is aware of soccer is aware of there ought to have been a penalty.
‘They’ll speculate themselves which of them ought to have been a penalty. I cannot provide you with an accurate reply on that as a result of I haven’t got the proper reply, I simply have my notion of it.’
To finest sum up his shortcomings on the evening, Ovrebo factors to a well-known British rock band. ‘I believe it is Coldplay,’ he says, ‘they’ve a music and one of many strains is “once you strive your finest and you do not succeed”.
‘That in a method sums up the efficiency of the referees on this match.’
Coldplay lyrics apart, Ovrebo additionally has a refreshingly trustworthy clarification for his unhealthy evening on the workplace.
As is usually the case when tight calls go within the favour of so-called super-clubs, Chelsea felt they had been on the incorrect finish of foul play that evening, with Hiddink even admitting: ‘Some individuals argued it was fastened. Whereas deep down I do not imagine that, maybe it was the one time I began to doubt it.’
His resolution to ship Eric Abidal off earlier than the late aim guidelines out any accusations of foul play
Ovrebo’s resolution to indicate Abidal a straight pink card within the 66th minute, lengthy earlier than Iniesta scored on the loss of life, exonerates any accusations of corruption. However he’s comfortable to simply accept that Chelsea’s animated protests maybe made him reluctant to level to the spot.
‘In a match like that when you have got so many penalty appeals, typically as a referee you get involved about not being fooled by the staff,’ he admits. ‘So perhaps that would have influenced my notion in a detrimental method.
‘That might be it. I do not know for certain, I am simply speculating with you. That might be one form of clarification, that you do not wish to seem to be a referee that’s pressured to provide a penalty. So then perhaps you understand the scenario extra strictly in a method.
‘If I had VAR in that match I am certain a few of the calls would have been totally different. However I can not go round reflecting on my efficiency so long as I did my finest. I can study from it and that was perhaps crucial factor, however for me I can not go round and remorse a few of my calls. I made different errors throughout my 40 years as a referee and I can not remorse all of them.’
Ovrebo spent one other yr as a FIFA-licensed official earlier than seeing out the rest of his profession in his native Norway. After hanging up his whistle in 2013, he now works as a psychologist on the Norwegian College of Sports activities Sciences, a subject he studied throughout his days at college.
The retired official, who now works as a psychologist in Norway, says having VAR would have ‘taken the enjoyable away’ of being a referee
You’ll hardly blame the ex-referee, who resides in his hometown of Oslo, for glancing on enviously at any time when VAR helps a modern-day official keep away from the kind of catastrophe he encountered at Stamford Bridge.
But astonishingly, for Ovrebo the assistive know-how would have taken the joys out of refereeing.
‘I believe VAR is an effective factor for soccer so long as they use it properly, however in fact it additionally takes away a few of the enjoyable of being a referee as a result of you have got that security mechanism,’ he insists. ‘For me, I used to be a referee in one other period after we did not have this know-how and I loved that lots.
‘I need to say that I am very optimistic in the direction of VAR so long as it’s used properly. However the stress for a referee is totally different with VAR than with out VAR, since you at all times have that security internet.
‘That was one of many issues that I favored about being a referee earlier than VAR, that it is a very quick distance between being in heaven and in hell.’