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“Making the Arsenal” – the book of Arsenal’s rebirth
By Walter Broeckx
Not the normal refwatch this time for our champions league game against Borrusia Dortmund.
So you will not see any nice graphics about the ref. Once you get over the disappointment of this and still want to know who the ref is of this game you can read further as this is a bit of a special night for the ref.
One of the reasons I feel a bit entitled to write this refwatch is the fact that the ref comes from Belgium. It is Frank De Bleeckere who will do this game. And it will be his final Champions League game as a ref. Because next month he will stop as an active ref for ever. He has reached the age of 45 years and this is the maximum age for a ref in Belgium to be a Fifa ref and so he has decided to stop completely. His last game will be on 17 December a league game in Belgium between Zulte Waregem – Bergen. He was born in Oudenaarde and this is a city in the Flemish Ardennes in the province East-Flanders and not far away from Ghent.
But tomorrow he will do his last Champions League game. And we have a bit of a history with De Bleeckere. And well in fact it was a bit of a good memory. Who could forget our Champions League game against Porto when we had to overcome a 2-1 deficit from the first leg in March 2010? Yes it was the game in which Bendtner scored a hat-trick and the game in which Samir Nasri created and scored an incredible goal by dancing round defenders and firing in from a narrow angle. That day ref De Bleeckere was the ref when we won 5-0 against Porto to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League.
So no complaints about the ref in that game as there was not much to complain about. We just were the better side that night. For those who think we can have a good ref because of the presence of Vermaelen I don’t know if it will matter for De Bleeckere because he never has done games with Vermaelen in Belgium as Vermaelen never played in the Belgium first division. And in the game against Porto De Bleeckere gave Vermaelen a yellow card. So it is not likely that he looks at who he has to book or not and being from the same country doesn’t help.
As to who De Bleeckere is I can say that he is very experienced and has been at the top of the world for many years. He started as a ref in 1984 and became a ref in the top league in Belgium in 1995. In 1998 he became a Fifa ref. So he has some 13 years of experience under his belt at the highest level.
He was voted amongst the best of the best in the past 3 years. The IFFHS voted him as the 3rd best ref in the world 2008, as the 5th best in the word in 2009 and as the 4th best ref in the world in 2010. We in Belgium still believe that if Holland had not been in the world cup final it would have been Frank De Bleeckere who would have done the world cup final in 2010. But as he had done games in the Dutch highest division he was not allowed to do games of the Dutch national team. The refs in Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg do games in the other countries and as a result cannot do games of those national teams. So ref De Bleeckere was a bit unlucky about the Dutch team getting that far.
And he does seem to like English football a bit. More than Spanish football. Because in Madrid and Barcelona he was not the most popular person. In Madrid they don’t like him because they lost at Anfield against Liverpool and in Barcelona they feel he didn’t help them enough to get to the final in 2010 when he did the semi final game Barcelona – Milan when Barcelona could not overcome the defeat they suffered in Milan. But as we are not playing a Spanish team this doesn’t really matter.
In the press yesterday when the announcement was made that he was doing the Arsenal – Dortmund game as his final game he was very thrilled and excited. He said he was going to try to enjoy his last game but also was very focussed to do a very good game as it would be his last game on this level and he would like to end on a high. I really do hope he has good game and that he doesn’t make any terrible mistakes and certainly not one that could cost us. Otherwise the complete Arsenal Benelux supporters club will feel very bad not just for Arsenal but also because of the fact that he comes from our parts.
Hope you all enjoy yourself on the night.
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