Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg says he decided to leave England after he’d been on the receiving end of one Jose Mourinho ear-bashing too many.
Clattenburg – who on Monday caused controversy when admitting he’d allowed Tottenham Hotspur’s players to “self-destruct” in a 2016 game against Chelsea – spent 13 years as an official in England’s top division before leaving to work for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation in February this year.
And the 42-year-old says he made up his mind to seek pastures new after refereeing Manchester United’s 1-1 draw away at Stoke in January.
“I was refereeing the game when Wayne Rooney broke Bobby Charlton’s record and Mourinho came into my dressing room and he was unhappy about a handball penalty that I didn’t give,” Clattenburg told the Men in Blazers podcast.
“I’d walked off that pitch at Stoke, which was always the coldest stadium, it was always wet and miserable, and refereeing Man United was never an easy match.
“To come off that match it felt immense that I’d actually had a good performance, and for him to come into my dressing room and criticise my performance for a handball that I’d seen, that had clearly come off his chest, I knew that I was right but he’d put a seed of doubt into my mind.
“I drove home 250 miles thinking I’d made a big error, my wife knew my attitude had changed, and I thought to myself, ‘do I really wanna be a part of this anymore? Do I really want to referee?’
“And I went soul-searching, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to and I had to get out.
“When I was offered the opportunity with Saudi Arabia it was an easy decision.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News on Tuesday, the FIFA-listed official says moving away has allowed him to become something of a voice for voiceless Premier League referees.
“I can understand, after the abuse I’ve had, why people don’t want to become referees,” he said.
“I’ve taken abuse for 13 years. When you’re a Premier League referee you’re not going to keep everybody happy, you’re going to upset some teams.
“Referees haven’t been allowed to speak for years. I want to try and educate and for people to understand.”