Norfolk referee Darren Cann bows out of international scene in style
When Darren Cann walked off the Belo Horizonte pitch little did he know it would be the last time he would ever officiate at a World Cup finals.
Brazil had just beaten Chile in the last 16 on penalties and Howard Webb, Mike Mullarkey and Cann had just given the kind of assured performance that saw them awarded the World Cup final in 2010.
Repeating this feat was always unlikely in Cann’s eyes but after being retained by FIFA in Brazil after the quarter-final stage, the trio were confident of a swansong on the biggest stage of all.
While Cann believes the awarding of a second final was never a realistic prospect the 45-year-old hoped he would get to run the line one last time in a semi-final.
“Very few people have the good fortune to have one World Cup so I think to have two World Cup finals would be pretty impossible,” he said. “We were realistic from day one but we would have liked a quarter-final or a semi-final. We’re there to work and do the best we can.
“We trained really hard and FIFA were extremely happy with the two games that we delivered.
“With the way both matches had gone there was nothing to suggest it would be our last game but of the last eight matches so many happened to be a European team against a non-European team. It just wasn’t to be that we would get a third game.”
The English trio’s performances in the Colombia v Ivory Coast and Brazil v Chile games had passed by without controversy – crucial in the eyes of FIFA – and it appeared a safe bet that Cann would be involved in the latter stages in what he knew would be his last international game.
However, Cann, who will now be retired from the international list of officials as he is over 45, believes the make-up of the semi-finals made it very difficult for FIFA to appoint the English contingent.
“I think it was just a combination of the teams that got to the semi-finals that meant it was difficult for us to do another game.
“Both semi-finals were one European team against a South American team and that obviously makes it harder for FIFA to appoint a European referee. They always try to make a neutral appointment as far as possible.
“Despite being retained you’re not sure whether you’re going to get another game and, hopefully, our experience was there to help others in the latter stages.”
Nicola Rizzoli, Renato Faverani and Andrea Stefani got the honour of taking charge of the final and the Italian trio went for dinner with their English counterparts to call on their experience in 2010.
Along with his ‘team-mates’ Cann will go down as one of the finest officials this country has produced and, in the six games he has officiated at the World Cup finals, has not got a single offside decision wrong. Webb, Mullarkey and Cann are also the only English officials since 1994 that have been kept on after the group stages.
Cann is proud to have got to the top of his profession.
“If I’m being honest when we came off after the Brazil v Chile match I didn’t expect it to be our last match,” he said. “It’s a little bit tinged with sadness that was the case.
“But I still look back with great fondness at the competition for the World Cups both in 2010 and 2014.
“We’ve delivered six matches and thankfully I haven’t got a single offside decision wrong in my World Cup career so I’m grateful for that.”