Mark Clattenburg is delighted to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition after being appointed to referee the 2016 Emirates FA Cup Final between Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
The 41-year-old from Consett, who has refereed in the Premier League since 2004, will officiate at the showpiece along with assistant referees John Brooks and Andrew Halliday, fourth official Neil Swarbrick and reserve assistant referee Michael Salisbury.
Clattenburg said: “It came out of the blue. These days you get told of what games you're doing by text, but when you see a call coming in from The FA referees’ department you know it's important.
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
The Emirates FA Cup Final
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Saturday 21 May 2016
“I think every referee who hasn't refereed the Cup Final works hard every season to hopefully referee one of the most prestigious and important cup finals in the world.
“You set yourself goals at the start of the season, and mine was to referee in The FA Cup Final. It’s an honour and a massive achievement.”
He is no stranger to Wembley showpieces, taking charge in the 2012 League Cup Final, the men’s Olympic Final in the same year, and the following year’s FA Community Shield.
“It's probably one of the positives is that I have been at Wembley on quite a few occasions,” he said.
“To referee at Wembley for the first time is quite an experience but once you’ve done it a few times you become a little bit more appreciative to try to enjoy the experience.
He added: “I remember watching Manchester United and Crystal Palace and the tradition of these two teams 26 years ago and that famous game - it's amazing how these games relive.
“Hopefully it will be as good as it was all those years ago. “
Watch highlights of Crystal Palace's Emirates FA Cup win over Watford
Clattenburg believes his appointment is not just an achievement for him and his team.
“It is about every referee in the country because we want to do well for them too. We're all a refereeing family who wants to do the best we can for everyone,” he said.
The FA Cup Final is not Clattenburg’s last major appointment of the season – the following month he will be one of two English referees to take charge of matches at Euro 2016 in France.
“It's a huge summer. Every game is difficult and that's the bottom line,” he said.
“I've got a huge Premier League game on Monday, then other appointments before the Cup Final.
Watch highlights of Manchester United's Emirates FA Cup win over Everton
“It finishes my domestic season off and then hopefully I can start building towards the European Championships with some satisfaction before 10 June and the Euro.”
David Elleray, chairman of the FA Referees’ Committee, said: “The FA Referees’ Committee has appointed a very strong team of officials to control what promises to be an exciting FA Cup Final.
“Mark Clattenburg is a highly experienced referee who refereed the 2012 Olympic final and the 2014 UEFA Super Cup final.
“The Referees’ Committee was unanimous in choosing all five officials and we are very confident that they will officiate the match in a manner which will enhance what is always a special occasion.”