Assistant referee from Poringland could help to officiate World Cup final

Darren Cann preparing to jet off to Brazil. Photo: Bill Smith

Darren Cann preparing to jet off to Brazil. Photo: Bill Smith

An assistant referee from Poringland touted as the best in the world by FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still in with a chance of officiating in his second World Cup Final.

Darren Cann could be teaming up with colleagues Howard Webb and Mike Mullarkey at Sunday's final in Rio de Janeiro after they were kept in Brazil by FIFA.

They are the governing body's most highly-rated trio, according to Darren's father, Richard, and could be picked for the third-place play-off or final if results go their way.

Richard Cann said an all-European final between Germany and Holland would provide the best chance for his son's team to take charge.

'If it's a European side and a South American, they'll be open to being seen as biased, and if it's two South American sides, FIFA normally say there's going to be language issues.

'It'll be tough because they've had the final before, but Pierluigi Collina is in charge of the referees and he rates our trio as the best in the world,' he said.

Mr Cann was in South Africa at the 2010 World Cup when his son's team were selected for the final between Spain and Holland in Johannesburg.

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No refereeing team has ever officiated in two finals, and Mr Cann said while it would be a major feat for them to be selected again, he has hope after being told their selection was unlikely in 2010.

'I said to David Elleray at that tournament that if FIFA want the best then they have to pick our boys.

'He told me that they wouldn't get picked because it was their first World Cup – but they got it.

'I know they think a lot of them and I just wonder why they have kept them on,' he said.

The team have been based in Rio during the tournament, flying out a week before the first game.

They train every day and are escorted by heavy security on excursions at all times.

Despite the pressures of the tournament, Mr Cann said his son was enjoying himself.

'We spoke last night and he was saying he'd been able to go to the beach and watch games, and that he thought Brazil was a tremendous place.

'They work hard and there is massive pressure on the games but they are enjoying themselves so much,' he said.

The tournament will be the Norfolk official's last, with a mandatory retirement age of 45.

He will continue to officiate in the Premier League, with a fitness test the day after he arrives back in England.

His glittering CV includes officiating in the Confederations Cup, the 2010 Champions League Final and the World under-17 and under-19 Championships.

It is a far cry from his start in the game, taking the whistle in games at Poringland Reserves while in his 20s.

'He's so highly-rated by everyone – largely because he is so good on off-sides.

'He very rarely gets one wrong,' Mr Cann said

'In the officials' ranking for the league, Darren has topped the rankings for the last eight seasons and Sepp Blatter has said he is the best assistant referee in the world.'

Mr Cann Sr was also a referee, and the family tradition looks set to be continued by 15-year-old Adam, Darren's son.

He has already been officiating at games for Norwich City's academy teams.

He also lined up alongside his father and Howard Webb at a charity game in Sheffield before the World Cup.