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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 May, 2004, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Winter in wonderland
By Stuart Roach

Referee Jeff Winter
Winter is relishing his final game as a professional referee
FA Cup final referee Jeff Winter admits he will be emotional as he takes charge of his last match before retirement.

Winter, just like fellow ref Paul Durkin, has been forced to hang up his whistle having turned 45 last year.

"It would have been emotional whatever the last game, but for it to be the FA Cup final is a tremendous honour.

"In my opinion this is the greatest game of club football in the world," Winter told BBC Sport.

He added: "Refereeing an FA Cup final is something I always had as a pipe dream, so I'll be living that dream on Saturday."

Winter also insists he is desperate to see Manchester United captain Roy Keane and Millwall player manager Dennis Wise both passed fit, despite the potential fireworks that may prompt.

"They are both tremendous characters and people would jokingly suggest my job would be easier if Roy and Dennis weren't playing, Winter said.

"But I'm not worried about that. I know what it means to me to be out there and I can imagine what it is like for them, so I sincerely hope they are both playing.

"They are both tremendous footballers and tremendous servants to their clubs and to the game."

Winter is predicting a game full of passion and believes the outcome will be tighter than many predict.

"A lot of people talk about Manchester United showing their class and winning 5-0 or more.

"But this is an FA Cup final and for the Millwall players, the United players and for me and my team also, it's one of the greatest days of our lives.

"No-one is going to go out there and capitulate. It is going to be a great game of football and I hope on Sunday we are talking about goals and players and not the referee."

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