Leading England ref Howard Webb announced on Wednesday that he was retiring to become the technical director of the organisation that oversees professional officials in English football.

London – Howard Webb, the Englishman who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, has retired from refereeing to become technical director of English soccer’s match officials’ association, it was announced on Wednesday.

Webb, 43, said he had enjoyed the “best seat in the house” while refereeing Premier League games over the past 10 years.

“I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch,” Webb said in a statement on the Premier League’s website (www.premierleague.com).

“I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house for Premier League matches, been lucky enough to be involved in nine UEFA and FIFA tournaments, and taken charge of the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals.

“Refereeing has given me so much and it’s important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge.”

In 2010 Webb, from Rotherham in Yorkshire, became the first referee to take charge of the World Cup final and Champions League final in the same year.

In the controversial final in South Africa, when Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0, Webb showed 14 yellow cards - a World Cup final record - and sent off Dutchman John Heitinga.

He admitted afterwards that a high, studs-up foul by Nigel de Jong on Xabi Alonso, for which he gave de Jong a caution, should have been a straight red.

Webb also officiated at the European Championships of 2008 and 2012, as well as the World Cup finals in Brazil in June. He refereed more than 500 Premier League games.

The statement said that, as technical director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), Webb will be “responsible for overseeing the technical direction and standards that govern the on-field performance of PGMOL’s match officials”.

It added: “He will manage the PGMOL training programme and coaching system and will work extensively on the successful development programme that provides a pathway for referees from level 3 through to the select group.

“Additionally, he will take a public-facing role, informing and educating on refereeing matters.”

PGMOL general manager Mike Riley said that Webb was “the foremost referee of his generation and an inspiration for match officials in this country and around the world.” – Reuters