INTERNATIONAL

Howard Webb reveals why he never sent off De Jong for THAT World Cup final flying kick

The English referee finally opens up about the controversial decision not to show the Dutch midfielder a red card in the World Cup 2010 final against Spain: "It was a fucking nightmare"

English referee Howard Webb has told of how he was "gutted beyond belief" to miss the infamous flying kick by Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong during the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

De Jong had risen his boot dangerously and sent his studs flying into the into the chest of Spain's Xabi Alonso in the first half, however Webb opted to only dish out a yellow card for the then-Manchester City player when it had seemed an obvious red card offence.

"I hadn't seen point of impact" 

"Xabi Alonso headed the ball forward to David Villa but, as he did so, Nigel de Jong crashed into him," Webb has written in his new book 'The Man in the Middle'. "At that moment I'd been positioned just behind Alonso, about 10 yards away, so I hadn't seen the actual point of impact or exactly how De Jong had connected.

"However, I knew that it was a late and forceful challenge, and that it warranted a caution. None of my team spoke up on the radio to suggest otherwise, so I showed a yellow card for what I'd seen unfold before me: an untidy, reckless challenge from the Dutch midfielder.

"It never crossed my mind that it was red" 

"Hand on heart, it never, ever crossed my mind that this was a red card. In that instance, on that pitch, I was utterly convinced it was a yellow; not one percent of me thought otherwise.

"I hadn't bottled out of the big decision, I hadn't felt intimidated by the occasion, and I'd certainly not felt under any pressure from FIFA to curb dismissals. I'd simply handed out the appropriate penalty for what I'd seen with my own eyes, from my vantage point. And that's the truth.

Nigel De Jong of the Netherlands appeals to Referee Howard Webb as he receives a yellow card for a kick in the chest on Xabi Alonso of Spain during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain

Furious reaction 

"As I brandished the card, however, there was a furious reaction from the Spaniards, both on and off the field. I genuinely thought they were pissed off because of the general physicality of the Dutch team, not just this one particular offence. I also presumed they were riled because I'd chosen not to play advantage when the ball had dropped to David Villa from Alonso's header.

"What a f---ing nightmare"

"It wasn't until half-time that I realised De Jong's tackle might have been worthy of a red card... I felt gutted beyond belief. It looked like I'd missed a red-card offence in the World Cup final. What a f---ing nightmare. I returned to the pitch with my head pounding and my heart thumping."