New Year Honours: Referee Webb awarded MBE

Howard Webb, who was today awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List, achieved recognition as the world's top referee in 2010 when he was chosen to take charge of the two biggest matches in football - the Champions League final and the World Cup final.

The 39-year-old police sergeant, who is on a five-year break from South Yorkshire Police, became the first referee to be chosen to officiate at both in the same year.

The Champions League final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in May was straightforward enough, the Italian side winning 2-0, but the World Cup final in South Africa developed into one of the most challenging matches of Webb's refereeing career.

Holland's strong-arm tactics against Spain led to him showing 14 yellow cards, two of those leading to a red card for Everton's Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga.

In August, Webb said he and assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey had been honoured to be chosen for the final, which was won by Spain 1-0, but disappointed at having to set an unwelcome record for cards.

Webb said: "I look back on it as an amazing and memorable experience.

"It was a extremely challenging game, we had to show lots of cards, it wasn't what we hoped for and that was a disappointment for us and made it very challenging for us.

"But we came home very satisfied and proud of what we had achieved down there."

Webb, the son of a Rotherham coal miner, took up refereeing in 1989 and refereed his first international match in 2005. He was also in charge of the 2009 FA Cup final.