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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Merk to referee final
Markus Merk shows a yellow card to Robert Pires of France
Merk was in charge for England v France
German referee Markus Merk has been given the privilege of taking charge of the Euro 2004 final in Lisbon.

Merk, 42, refereed England's opening game against France and the 2-2 draw between Sweden and Denmark.

Sweden's Anders Frisk will be in charge of Wednesday's semi-final between hosts Portugal and Holland.

And Italian Pierluigi Collina, who is appearing at his last major tournament, will referee Thursday's semi-final between Greece and the Czech Republic.

Merk said: "It is fantastic to be in the final and I will really enjoy it.

"It's an emotional day, a wonderful day and you think back to your whole career over 30 years.

"It's just the same for the referees as it is for the players - it's something you dream about."

Ironically, Merk and Collina were in the same situation two years ago at the World Cup - with their continued participation depending on Germany and Italy's elimination from the tournament.

Italian referee Pierluigi Collina
Collina insisted he was not disappointed at missing out
"Pierluigi and I were in the hotel in Japan together and we had to wait and see what happened," Merk explained.

"It is important for young players that the national team is successful, especially in big footballing countries like Germany and Italy.

"But if the national team does not do well it is important there will be at least one German team in the final."

"I have been working for 16 years in the Bundesliga and that is more important than individual matches.

"But my highlights include the 1992 Olympics (in Barcelona), the opening game of Euro 2000 and one of the semi-finals.

"Then of course I did the Champions League final last year in Manchester."

Collina insisted he was not disappointed - despite missing out on the chance to referee the "clean sweep" of the Olympic final (1996), Champions League final (1999), World Cup final (2002) and European Championships final.

This is Collina's last major tournament before the mandatory retirement age of 45.

"He (Merk) is a friend and I have to say sometimes it is difficult to make a judgement about a friend," the Italian said.

"But I can say that this is very, very much deserved."

Links to more Euro 2004 stories


Interview: Markus Merk


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