Tom Henning Øvrebø
Tom Henning Øvrebø (born 26 June 1966 in Oslo, Norway) is an error-prone Norwegian referee who either inadvertently or altruistically saved the 2009 Champions League final.
A psychologist by trade, Øvrebø spends the rest of his time refereeing crucial games at domestic and European level and adding incomprehensible accents to his name.
Having climbed the ranks in the low-pressure environment of Norway’s Tippeligaen where teams are just happy their subs don’t have to referee, Øvrebø has earned the a place on UEFA’s list of Europe’s elite officials.
However, when thrust into the dazzling spotlight of international competition and the Champions League, Øvrebø has made some bizarre and possibly crooked decisions.
Øvrebø doesn’t convince at Euro 2008
Euro 2008 was a fantastic festival of football, but Øvrebø can claim little credit for that.
During the Italy-Romania clash, the shiny-headed oaf incorrectly ruled Luca Toni offside for a goal. He then wrongly awarded Romania a penalty and finally booked Daniele De Rossi for ‘walking too fast’ as Gigi Buffon prepared to take a goal kick.
Øvrebø knocks Chelsea out of Champions League
Øvrebø’s previous mistakes were trivial in comparison to his horror show in the 2008-09 Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Barcelona.
The nervy Norwegian sent off Barcelona’s Eric Abidal for an inconspicuous challenge, but then evened things out by turning down four decent penalty shouts for Chelsea.
Barcelona stole a winner, leaving Didier Drogba to open his eyes wider than anyone ever should and yell ‘it’s a fucking disgrace’. Guus Hiddink, who was Chelsea's sort of manager at the time, suggested that it was conspiracy as FIFA had wanted to avoid a repeat of last year’s final.
Although FIFA were probably not all that bothered, every sane neutral did want to avoid a Chelsea-Manchester United final.
The 2007-08 finale between the two English superpowers was such a depressing spectacle that 60 per cent of fans turned over to ‘Gok’s Fashion Fix’.
Whether by accident or design, Øvrebø became a cult hero amongst most British football fans and can be credited for pairing Manchester United and Barcelona – obviously the correct final.
With his bald head and malevolent visage, Øvrebø looks a bit like dead Russian actor Yul Brynner.