Confessing a friendly match between Lionel Messi-led Argentina and Venezuela at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in 2011 as the ‘most memorable’ match, FIFA referee Rowan Arumughan said it was key to not get starstruck as he took charge of a match which saw Messi lead Argentina for the first time. Also Read - Roger Federer Edges Out Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi to Become World's Highest-paid Athlete in Forbes' List
“That is the most memorable match for me. Gautam-Sir (Col. Goutam Kar (Retd.)) and Ravi-Sir (Ravi Shankar) asked me to keep it simple and count it just as another match,” Rowan told www.the-aiff.com. Also Read - Looking Forward to The Competitions Again: Lionel Messi on La Liga Restart
“I still remember Gautam Sir’s words: Don’t get starstruck. At the end of the day, you are the referee. They may be Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria but you are the boss at the ground. Act as you act in the domestic matches,” he added. Also Read - Jurgen Klopp Likes Lionel Messi a Little More Than 'Perfect Player' Cristiano Ronaldo
Rowan always prefers to study the players beforehand which helps him take decisions without much fuss. Javier Mascherano, Messi, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero the bigwigs of the La Albiceleste used to represent FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City whereas Venezuelan boys used to play in lesser-popular leagues which were not telecast in India.
“I could follow the Argentine players from EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga but Venezuelan players used to play in those leagues which were not broadcast in India. Ravi Sir advised me to get clips,” Rowan said.
“Both teams played the same brand of possession-based football, they were looking to cut in diagonally from the wings to hurl attack on the opponents.”
Dinesh Nair and Biplab Poddar were the assistant referees whereas Pratap Singh was the fourth official that day.
“I started my career with Pratap on the same day, back in 1999. Biplab-da was senior and much experienced than me, so was Dinesh who had already done quite a few Kolkata Derby matches until then. The camaraderie amongst us worked for me. I can’t thank them, including Goutam-Sir and Ravi-Sir, enough,” Rowan added.
Argentina rode Nicolas Otamendi’s solitary goal to win 1-0 in that game which was billed around Messi’s first visit to India.