Clattenburg names ‘irritable’ Arsenal goalkeeper on most annoying list

Mark Clattenburg was asked to name his most annoying players to referee, and names former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann on his list.

The 45 year-old is ranked amongst the best officials in world football, highlighted by his selection to referee both the Champions League final and Euro 2016 final within a matter of months.

Amidst the chaos of the suspension of football, he has been asked to list the players who have frustrated him most while on the job, with players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal amongst the top five.

“I knew my relationship with him was on sticky ground when he squeezed my balls in the tunnel at the Etihad, and I don’t mean my match-balls,” Clattenburg said of Craig Bellamy.

“But Bellamy was a nightmare to referee and most of us felt the same. He would snarl at you and throw his arms around, constantly challenging you. His language was awful, just plain rude.”

Next on the list came United’s former captain Roy Keane for obvious reasons.

He added: “I have to start by saying that I worked with Roy for ITV during the World Cup in 2018 and he was a gentleman and nice to be around, proof that players can be very different off the pitch from on it.”

However, he acknowledged that Keane could try and bully referees and added: “You just couldn’t trust Roy either. You never knew if he was going to blow up or do something nasty, like the tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland. That was a disgrace, it was pre-meditated.

“He always came across as stone-cold and wanted to be the hard man. That causes problems for referees because the ego kicks in and it becomes a fight, like it did between him and Patrick Vieira.”

Next came our very own Jens Lehmann, who famously played a key role in our Invincibles season in 2004.

Clattenburg continued: “He was just so irritable and never stopped, one of those miserable blokes who would whinge about everything and everyone.

“If the ball was round, he would whinge. If the ball was white, he would whinge. You would think, ‘Just give it a rest’.”

He added: “But he would do snidey, little things himself that made it difficult and I didn’t enjoy refereeing him at all. He was erratic and his antics were not easy to deal with.”

Former Real Madrid and Portugal defender Pepe and Jon Obi Mikel complete the top five, with the latter most famously having accused the official of using racist language, and never apologising for the accusation.

I was quite surprised the likes of David Luiz and Patrick Vieira have escaped the list in fairness, with the pair having been known for their antics themselves, especially with the former’s ‘Psycho Bob’ moment from his time with Chelsea sticking in my mind.

Was Lehmann really Arsenal’s most frustrating player for referees in our recent history?


Tags Jens Lehmann Mark Clattenburg


  1. Interesting article Patrick, nice to have some personal thoughts from referees who are, normally, under the instructions of Riley, to reveal nothing!!

    We all know Jens was a little bit of a nut case, but that was part of what made him a top flight keeper.

    The thing that always puzzles me though, is this foul and abusive language that he talks about.
    When I took my refereeing course, one of the things that was installed as non- negoitable was the treatment of foul and abusive:

    Under no circumstances was it to go unpunished – in fact resulting fines were deemed as serious as dangerous play monetary wise.

    Some will say professional players are different to local league players, but I disagree.
    One player I sent off was fined (if I remeber correctly) was fined £50 and had a three month ban for dangerous play and Foul and abusive. He and I talked about the incident later, when he apologised and so did I – WHY?

    Because for me, to take £50 out of a working mans pocket forty odd years ago was massive – yet we see prima donnas today quite literally calling officials everything under the sun and having no punishment meted out against them.

    Time to have a level playing field across all levels of football in my view.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Ken, warn that there will be a crack down and dish out the yellow’s and maybe even a red. It will stop almost instantly.

  2. Reading this did make me chuckle a little – Jens whinge? Never.. hahaha!!
    I’m not at all surprised by Keane and Bellamy being on the list!

    Just out of interest, for the players, I wonder who would come out on top as the most annoying ref?!

    1. Sue…it has to be Dean, Riley, Clattenburg, Oliver – in fact all of them since Riley took control!!!!

      But Dean for me, simply because I know, without question,he will always give bad decisions against us.

      Northern bias in the extreme.

      1. Annoying refs? I’d say pretty much all of then, as they are so incompetent. Not biased though, which is where I DEPART from some on her. But just useless! Riley was the worst ever IMO and how he ended up as their chief is a sick joke. Dean is by a distance the one most looking to show all he is in complete charge, with a giant ego showing clearly. The least awful is Oliver but that’s not saying much!

        As for MAD LENS, the name was a great description of an out of control personality, but otherwise a top keeper.

      2. Dean closely followed by Moss for me!
        He has to be one of the most unpopular, or shall we say disliked (😉) refs by not only us fans, but the players (& who knows maybe even the managers!!) also!!!

  3. I am also baffled as to why referees put up with foul and abusive language directed at them, I thought it was a yellow card then red card for a further outburst. I suppose it is because referees today want to be seen as one of the lads which I think is wrong. I also think a yellow card should be shown for any player spitting which is a disgusting habit.

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