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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
World Cup Final 'changed my life'
By Neil Aitchison
BBC News

World Cup Final 1974
Jack Taylor gave a penalty as the game started for a foul on Cruyff
Thirty-two years ago Wolverhampton butcher Jack Taylor swapped cutting chops to be watched by a billion people as referee of the 1974 World Cup Final.

He was working in the family business when he took charge of the West Germany v Holland game, the last Englisman to referee a World Cup final.

He will be remembered for his decisions, including giving a penalty against Germany in the second minute.

He said it was the greatest moment of his life and changed it forever.

Football was his life from an early age, growing up living above the butcher's shop next to Wolverhampton Wanderers' Molineux ground and playing as a schoolboy for Wolverhampton Town.

Jack Taylor
Jack Taylor was inducted into the Fifa hall of fame in 1999

During 33 years as a referee he was in charge of more then 1,000 games, including 100 internationals in 60 countries.

He was inducted into the hall of fame run by Fifa, the world governing body, in 1999.

"I literally did swap my butcher's apron for the whistle to take charge of the World Cup final," said Taylor, who now lives near Shifnal in Shropshire.

"But it was the norm. I had a job to pay the mortgage and another life refereeing around the world.

"It was a schoolboy dream to referee an FA Cup final.

"But the World Cup final, there's only one referee every four years that does that, it was the ultimate."

It's 90 minutes that's changed my life, it's given me a fantastic life
Jack Taylor

But despite a worldwide audience tuning in to the game in Munich, West Germany, he treated it as an ordinary game.

"It wasn't anything new to me. If you're in a game in the park with five people watching or at Manchester United you just accept it.

"Of course it was a vital game, but I focused on the match."

The game is perhaps the most famous in World Cup history in refereeing terms.

Taylor awarded two penalties. The first against the Germans, the host team, in the first 80 seconds, when Cruyff was fouled before the Germans had even touched the ball.

The second later in the first half against Holland. The Germans won the game 2-1.

"The first penalty wasn't difficult to call. All I remember is thinking it was a 100% correct decision.

"As the ball went on the spot the whole stadium went quiet.

"Beckenbauer, the German skipper, came to me and said 'Taylor, you're an Englishman'. The kick went in and there was complete euphoria."

The referee's coin for the 1974 World Cup Final
The coin flipped at the start of the game

Controversy surrounds the second penalty, with many claiming the German Holzenbein dived.

"What really does annoy me is the suggestion that I gave it to even things up. It was a trip or an attempted trip and the laws of the game are that's a penalty."

He has travelled the world since. He spent two seasons refereeing in Brazil after closing the butchers, was commercial director at Wolverhampton Wanderers for four years from 1979 and has coached referees in South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

"It's 90 minutes that's changed my life, it's given me a fantastic life," said the 75-year-old, who was given the OBE in 1975 for services to football.

He blamed the rules laid down by Fifa for refereeing hitting the headlines in this year's competition.

"The refereeing has gone mad, and mad is a strong word. But it's all due to the dictates laid down by Fifa, referees are trying to comply with that.

"In my day it was me and 22 players, it was man management. Now referees have to comply with all the regulations."

He will no doubt be refereeing the World Cup Final again on Sunday between Italy and France, this time from his armchair.

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