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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
The referee's a...doctor?
Pierluigi Collina
Referee Collina, now a doctor of sports science
Italian referee Pierluigi Collina - probably the world's best known sporting official - has been awarded an honorary degree in the UK.

Mr Collina, 44, becomes a Doctor of Science for his contribution to the world of sport, following a 27-year career in football.

He was given a silver whistle marking his visit to Hull University.

Mr Collina is fondly remembered in England for refereeing the national team's 5-1 win over Germany in 2001.

'Hull seems nice'

He has been named by his international colleagues as the best ref in the world on five occasions.

England stars David Beckham and Steven Gerrard have publicly agreed with this judgement.

Dressed in red and green robes and wearing a black cap for the degree ceremony, Mr Collina said of Hull: "It seems like a nice city."

He added: "This is a very particular day for me. It's not usual for anyone to receive an honorary degree from a university, particularly for an Italian in England.

He is known for his no-nonsense attitude to players

"The degree has been awarded for my ability as a referee on the field and I am proud that what I did on the field in the last 27 years has been recognised.

"I hope that what I did in the last years can help the image of other referees."

Showing off his whistle, engraved with the Hull University crest, Mr Collina said: "This is a very nice gift from the university, but it's a bit different to the whistle I'm used to on the field."

Mr Collina, known as the "ice-cool Italian", or the "iron man", said: "I think sport is an important way to educate people, so the sports department is useful for society."

He bowed out of his 12-year career in international football after refereeing the Euro 2004 semi-final between the Czech Republic and Greece.

Mr Collina turns 45 next year, the mandatory retirement age for referees at that level.

It has been reported that he might continue officiating, however, in the English Premiership.

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