Greg Dyke has paid tribute to Howard Webb, after it was announced he is to retire from refereeing to take up a new role.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) confirmed that Webb is to become their new technical director with immediate effect – thus bringing an end to a distinguished 25-year career with the whistle.
Commenting on the news, The FA Chairman said: “On behalf of The FA, I would like to pay tribute to Howard Webb for a magnificent and unrivalled refereeing career.
“Howard has taken charge of the biggest games going – not least the 2010 World Cup Final.
"It is no surprise that he was one of our most important ambassadors for The FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2013.”
As well as officiating over 500 Premier League matches, Webb has also been a referee for games at nine major international tournaments – including two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships.
In 2010 he became the first referee to take charge of the UEFA Champions League Final and the FIFA World Cup Final in the same year when he oversaw Inter Milan’s triumph over Bayern Munich and, less than two months later, Spain’s extra-time victory against Holland.
But the Chairman also said his work away from the limelight should be remembered in equally high regard.
“One of the best images of last year was when Howard turned up at a Durham FA event in memory of Sir Bobby Robson,” he added.
“He had a rare Saturday off but still spent a couple of hours meeting hundreds of youngsters. He even agreed to referee an Under-7s match.
“What an experience for those kids to remember for the rest of their lives – to be inspired by someone who has reached the very pinnacle of their field.”
David Elleray, Chairman of The FA Referees’ Committee, said: “Howard has been the outstanding referee of his generation, admired and respected throughout the world. He has controlled some of the most important matches at domestic, European and world level and yet he has remained a modest person, keen to pass on his knowledge and enthusiasm for refereeing to others. Indeed, the growth in the number of referees in England in recent years, and especially amongst young people, is because so many people have been inspired by Howard.
"It is typical of the man that he has decided to step down now, when he still had many years left to referee, to focus on developing future generations of referees in England. We are delighted that Howard will be working with those currently at the top of refereeing and, more importantly, those who aspire to officiate at the highest levels in the future."
Throughout the 150th anniversary year Webb also acted as an FA Ambassador, and was handed the Royal honour of officiating the first-ever football match played at Buckingham Palace, played in front of FA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge.
“Howard is a magnificent role model and I am sure this will continue to be the case in his new position”
Greg Dyke FA Chairman
A new role at the PGMOL now awaits the Rotherham-born referee. He will be responsible for overseeing the technical direction and standards that govern the on-field performance of PGMOL’s match officials.
He will also manage the PGMOL training programme and coaching system and will work extensively on the successful development programme that provides a pathway for referees from Level 3 through to the Select Group.
Additionally Webb will take a public facing role, informing and educating on refereeing matters.
Responsibilities Greg Dyke said he will continue to inspire and educate within, and ended by wishing him every success in his new pursuits.
“Howard is a fantastic role model and I am sure this will continue to be the case in his new position representing all that is great about English football and refereeing in this country and around the world,” he continued.
“I wish him all the very best for the future and he will play an important part for us at Wembley and St. George’s Park going forward.”
FA General Secretary Alex Horne added: "The fact that Howard is staying in the game, offering his incredible experience and knowledge is great news for English football.
"Not only will he help to continue to improve refereeing standards in England, an area in which we are rightly recognised as leading the world, he will remain a mentor and role model for our aspiring young match officials."