Gianluca Rocchi is delighted and proud to have been chosen by UEFA’s Referees Committee to take charge of today’s UEFA Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal in Baku – and the Italian is determined to enjoy the moment.
“It’s a fantastic appointment for me – it’s a London derby, so it’s a special match,” says the 45-year-old father of two, who comes from Florence. “I want to make the best of this match. In the line-up before the kick-off, I’ll probably look at the teams, the coaches, the crowd, my referee team-mates, and really fully understand the importance of the occasion.”
An international referee since 2008, Rocchi is in the closing stages of a distinguished career during which he has already taken charge of another major European encounter – the 2017 UEFA Super Cup between Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Neither is he a stranger to UEFA Europa League finals – he was fourth official for the 2010 encounter between Atlético Madrid and Fulham, as well as Manchester United’s 2017 encounter against Ajax.
Rocchi began refereeing in 1989. “I played football, but realised that I wasn’t going to be the best player ever, so I decided to ‘cross the river’ and become a referee,” he says. “It’s a decision that I’ve obviously never regretted – I made an excellent choice.”
He will be assisted at the final in Baku by compatriots Filippo Meli and Lorenzo Manganelli, with Daniele Orsato taking the role of fourth official.