Norwich linesman to fulfil World Cup dream

Michael BaileyNorfolk assistant referee Darren Cann is planning for a busy summer after booking a place as an official at this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.Michael Bailey

Norfolk assistant referee Darren Cann is planning for a busy summer after booking a place as an official at this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Poringland official Cann will join Howard Webb and Mike Mullarkey as one of 30 refereeing trios at the world's greatest football spectacle, which starts in Johannesburg on June 11.

The 41-year-old - who completed his refereeing courses with Norfolk FA - made it through a list of 58 candidates to reach England's World Cup official representation and admits this summer will be the pinnacle of his time with the flag.

'It is a very humbling feeling having been chosen,' said Cann. 'I think I would consider this appointment as the most significant of my career to date.

'The FA Cup final in 2006, in which I was honoured to be one of the assistant referees, was also incredibly special. The 3-3 draw played out between Liverpool and West Ham, together with the drama of extra-time and penalties, will remain with me forever.

'On a global stage, being selected for the World Cup finals is a dream come true and something I would have never thought possible when I first became a referee.

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'I qualified in Norwich back in 1991. At the time I had no career plan - I simply just went out and refereed for pleasure.

'Now it is possible to have a career in refereeing, something that wasn't available when I started officiating almost 20 years ago.

'It's the culmination of two and a half years' hard work since the three of us officiated at the 2007 Fifa Under-20 World Cup finals in Canada. That's where the road to 2010 really began.

'Being honoured with the selection for South Africa has made all the sacrifices, such as giving up my job and all the training sessions on cold winter mornings, worthwhile.'

The refereeing trio face full medical, fitness and eye tests in the coming months ahead of the championships, with Peter Kirkup on from Northamptonshire the reserve in waiting should anything go wrong for either Cann or Mullarkey between now and the summer.

Premier League official Cann officiated alongside Webb and Mullarkey for Tuesday night's Champions League last 16 clash between Olympiacos and Bordeaux in Athens.

And he believes the relationship between England's three refereeing representatives will help the trio enjoy what promises to be a brilliant summer of football.

'We are all extremely good friends, which is a great benefit considering that we are effectively living together for anything up to six weeks away from our families,' said Cann, speaking to

'This will be our fourth major tournament together, following the Under-20 World Cup, Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, and the Under-17 World Cup finals in Nigeria last year.

'The friendship and camaraderie amongst the referees and staff at a major tournament is something very special indeed - it really is one big football family.'

England are among 32 teams aiming for World Cup glory in South Africa this summer, with 72 games to be played - culminating in the final, in Johannesburg on Sunday, July 11.