Howard Webb with Wayne Rooney
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney shouts at referee Howard Webb during a Premier League match.Reuters

Howard Webb has announced his retirement from professional refereeing and has joined Professional Game Match Officials Limited as Technical Director (PGMOL).

The 43-year-old, who is one of the most popular referees in the game's history, has brought a 25-year-career on the pitch to an end. He will now be responsible for overseeing the on-field performances of PGMOL match officials.

"I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch," the Englishman said.

Webb, who hails from Rotherham, took charge of more than 500 Barclays Premier League and Football League matches. He was also involved in two World Cups, two European Championships and several Champions League matches.

In 2010, Webb became the first referee to officiate the Champions League final and the World Cup final the same year.

"I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house for Barclays Premier League matches, been lucky enough to be involved in nine major international tournaments, and taken charge of the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals," Webb pointed out.

"Refereeing has given me so much and I think it's important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge."

However, Webb thinks that he still has more to learn in refereeing and the best place to gain more knowledge is PGMOL.

"I also have much more to learn about the business of refereeing and I believe the best place for me to do that is with PGMOL. We all have a common goal of improving refereeing," he stressed.

According to a statement released by PGMOL on Wednesday, Webb "will work extensively on the successful development programme" of level three referees.

"Howard has been the foremost referee of his generation and an inspiration for match officials in this country and around the world," said Mike Riley, PGMOL's general manager and a former Premier League referee.

"His role will strengthen refereeing in this country. Last season we trebled the funding for referee coaching and training and we will continue to invest in match officials from the Premier League down to the contributory leagues," he added.

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