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Mark Clattenburg: Retired Mike Dean is made for Strictly and I’m A Celebrity

| 24.05.2022

Mark Clattenburg was a Premier League referee for 13 years between 2004-17 and officiated in some major matches, especially 2016 when he took charge of both the Champions League and European Championship finals.

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with Ladbrokes, the Durham whistleblower talked about refereeing as a teenager, the Professional Game Match Officials Board and how he found out he would be in charge of the Champions League final.

But, first of all he discussed the career of Mike Dean who retired at the weekend after 22 years as a referee.

‘Old school’ Dean perfect for reality TV

Now that he’s finished refereeing, I could probably see Mike Dean heading Down Under with Ant and Dec for I’m A Celebrity or something like that. He’s a great character; he’s old school. When I first got into refereeing in the Premier League, he was always the joker of the group. He was always the character. You can call him Marmite, because you either love him or you hate him. He’s very flamboyant, and I like that about him.

I always got on well with Mike; he was always very vocal in our meetings every two weeks. The mechanics of the group changed over the years, but he never lost his character. He was still the same person and he’s still very popular in the group.

I sent him a message on Sunday ahead of his last game because I knew how he’d be. He used to work in a chicken factory and he ended up being a Premier League referee, a job he loved. He loves the game, and he’s been able to do what he loved at the highest of levels. People forget that he was an international referee.

Mike Dean

He never really got the opportunity in those big FIFA matches, but in the Premier League he was regularly trusted with some of the biggest games of the season. You can’t say the same for all referees, people like Graham Scott and Jon Moss haven’t really been given that level of games on a regular basis, whereas Mike Dean has.

In my message to him, I just told him he knows how it’s going to feel stepping out for the last time. It’s an emotional day, especially when you’re closing the door on refereeing completely. I’m sure he chose to end his career at Chelsea for his own reasons, you know, you get looked after better at some clubs than you do others.

Maybe he wanted his last match at Chelsea for that reason, and I’ve no doubt his family would have been there. I just said to him he just has to take in those last few moments. I wanted him to enjoy it, not thinking too much about this one match, but looking back on his entire career and everything he’s given to the Premier League.


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A post shared by Mike Dean (@mikedeanreferee)

He’s the most capped referee, if that’s what you’d call it. He’s had an incredible career, and he’ll look back at his achievements, especially when you consider where he’s come from; those days in the chicken factory. He’s just a normal, hard-working person trying to earn a living.

I saw him with a glass of expensive champagne after the match, which was a bit much – I thought he’d settle for a beer! But he deserves it. Credit to him for lasting so long at the top of his game, because it’s a very, very difficult thing to do. Maintaining that level for over 20 years is unbelievable.

I remember the time he celebrated a goal after he gave an advantage, I think it was for Tottenham. People forget that referees are human beings and we have emotions, and when you make a big decision, the correct one, you’re happy about it, of course you are. People are quick to criticise you for making the wrong decision, so why shouldn’t we be allowed to celebrate when we make the right one?


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A post shared by Mike Dean (@mikedeanreferee)

I knew Mike would be emotional on Sunday, and we saw his reaction afterwards. It’s finished now, and from a refereeing point of view he’s too old. Now he has to decide whether he goes into the management side of refereeing, which I think is unlikely because the PGMOL have chosen Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson to take that role. So I don’t know what he’s going to do.

Will he go and work on Strictly? I’ve heard he actually was a ballroom dancer, so maybe that’s his next step. Listen, he’s such a character, so why shouldn’t someone snap him up for reality TV? His next six to 12 months are going to be a very important time. If he stays within the PGMOL he won’t be able to do things like Strictly, but if he leaves, it opens the door for so many opportunities, which I think would be good for him because he’s such a great character and personality. You don’t want to lose characters like that. Most people think referees are boring, but I can assure you he doesn’t fall into that category.

I’m sure Mike will be popping up on TV somewhere soon over the next few months. Believe me, if he’s on I’m A Celebrity… I’ll 100% be making sure I’m voting him to do every challenge possible. Especially the eating ones. The poor bloke has basically been hated his whole life by football fans, so the entire UK will probably end up voting for him to do every Bushtucker Trial. He’ll now have to work out does he want to go and accept he’s going to be doing every challenge, or does he not bother going on the show at all… I know which one I’d rather do!



Alex Apati

Alex has been with the Ladbrokes PR team since 2017 having previously worked for the news department. From sparring with Peter Fury to talking interviews on the Duke and Duchess' baby names, he's covered a range of sports and novelty events.

A frustrated West Brom fan who is no stranger to an oche, Alex is originally from Dudley, although he's worked hard to rid himself of the Black Country twang.