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Premier League referee Mike Dean is a “nutter” who is happy to engage in foul-mouthed exchanges with players on the pitch, a former referee has claimed.
The Wirral-born official is one of the most infamous referees in the top flight, having been involved in controversies including appearing to celebrate a Tottenham Hotspur goal, as well as once reportedly telling a Watford player that he was claiming an assist for an opening day goal.
On Monday, reports emerged that the icon is set to quit officiating at the top flight after 22 years, with some suggesting the 53 year-old is being lined up to feature on the next series of I’m a Celebrity.
Now, one of Dean’s former peers Jeff Winter has praised Dean’s impact on the English game during an appearance on the Undr The Cosh podcast.
The recognition arose when Jeff was asked by the podcast’s panel about who he thought was the best referee in the Premier League.
“At the moment, best referee? I’ll cause some controversy with you now, and you’ll have been refereed by him. I love Mike Dean,” he said.
“He’s gone showboat with his decisions… Deano is a character, he’s gone into this mode of all these demonstrative signals and that, but he’s one of the lads.”
Jeff recalled how, when the referees were training at their camp in Daventry, they would tune into live games to watch Mike’s antics unfold.
He remembered: “We used to sit in the room and watch the game, and if Deano was refereeing he had this habit of, if a player gave him a mouthful – you know he’s from the Wirral so let’s call him a posh scouser – he’d turn around and go, ‘shut up yo f***ing knobhead’.
“We could see his lips. And I’m not saying that’s right, but that has most definitely gone out of the game.”
And, the Tranmere supporter’s name cropped up again, when later in the podcast Jeff was asked which referees he’d most like to take for a pint.
“Of the present generation I would say Mike Dean, because he’s a nutter, good banter, great entertainment,” he suggested.
Winter retired in 2004 after officiating the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Millwall, and went on to write a book about his experiences titled Who's the B*****d in the Black? Confessions of a Premiership Referee.
Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) declined to comment.
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