It is unusual to find soccer players who became referees. Most football referees are often well educated and have never played football. Some of the best football referees in the world began officiating without ever playing professional football.

However, there are a few players who became soccer referees after ending their playing careers. Here are five soccer players who became referees.

1. Sam Black

Sam Black was a former football player who featured for English side Manchester United or Newton Heath as it was known in the 1880s. Black usually played in the fullback position. He captained Newton Heath from 1883-1887. After his football career, Sam later became a football referee.

2. Dick Jol

Dick Jol soccer players who became referees
Referee Dick Jol, Netherlands (Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Jol is a former Dutch referee who was born on the 29th of March, 1956. Dick first started out as a professional soccer player for Netherland side NEC Nijmegen. He went on to play for Belgian clubs like Berchem Sport, Menen, and KV Kortrijk. Jol enjoyed a long and fruitful career in refereeing as well. 

The highlight of his refereeing was when he officiated the UEFA Champions League final of 2001 between German club side Bayern Munich and Spanish team Valencia, where he awarded three penalties during the 90 minutes.

3. Steve Baines

Baines is a former English footballer who was born on the 23rd of June, 1954. The defender enjoyed a long career between 1972-1987, featuring for a plethora of clubs like Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield, Huddersfield Town, and Bradford City.

Steve, after his retirement, decided to take up refereeing and, in 1994, became a Football League assistant. He went on to officiate a number of matches, even involving most of his former clubs.

4. Herbert Dale

Dale was an ex-Newton Heath (Manchester United) player who featured for them between 1886-1891. After his football career, the defender later switched to refereeing and was a referee in the Football League for most of the 1890s. Herbert was born in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, England.

5. Ben Haverkort

Ben Haverkort soccer players who became referees

Haverkort is a former Dutch referee who was born on the 27th of October, 1960. Ben initially started his football journey as a soccer player. He featured briefly in the youth teams of multiple Dutch Eredivise champions Ajax Amsterdam before settling in the Eerste Divisie, where he played for Telstar, SC Cambuur, and Emmen. 

After he finished his playing career, Haverkort decided to become a referee in 1995, eventually getting to the national league level in 1999. He was a FIFA-listed referee between 2002-2006. Haverkort served as a fourth official in Euro 2004 qualifiers, and 2006 World Cup qualifiers, before retiring from refereeing in 2011.

6. Bob Matthewson

Bob Matthewson didn’t play a handful of games as a footballer before becoming a referee. He played for the Byker Youth Club’s football team before he was signed by Bolton Wanderers, where he managed six appearances for Bolton in six seasons. He moved to Lincoln City but didn’t play a single game for them.

Matthewson began refereeing in 1958. One notable match he officiated was the popular 1974 FA Charity Shield match. In the game, Matthewson sent Leeds United’s Billy Bremner and Liverpool’s Kevin Keegan off for fighting. That was the first time players had been dismissed in a major British club match at Wembley.

In 1977, Matthewson moved to the US to become an official in the North American Soccer League. On 8th April, 1975, he also oversaw the 1974/75 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg match between Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

7. John Lloyd

John Lloyd was a Welsh footballer who turned referee in the early days. He featured only twice as an outside-right for Wrexham between 1965 and 1967. After his career ended started his career as a referee.

He became a Football League referee in 1985 and officiated many local and international matches. 

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