India's FIFA affiliated referee Rowan Arumughan, who was the match official when FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi's Argentina national team took on Venezuela in a friendly at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, has revealed that although seeing Messi play was his most memorable moment, but claims a referee cannot afford to be star-struck.
The FIFA referee on Monday termed the match at the Salt Lake as his 'most memorable'.
Arumughan said it was key to not get star-struck as he took charge of the match which saw Lionel Messi captain the Argentina national team for the first time.
"That is the most memorable match for me. Gautam sir (Col. Goutam Kar (Retd.) and Ravi sir (Ravi Shankar) asked me to keep it simple and count it just as another match." Rowan told AIFF's website.
He continued, "I still remember Gautam sir's words: Don't get star-struck. At the end of the day, you are the referee. They may be Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria but you are the boss at the ground. Act as you act in the domestic matches."
Rowan always prefers to study the players beforehand which helps him take decisions without much of an issue.
Talking about how he prepared for both teams, Rowan said, "I could follow the Argentine players from EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga but Venezuelan players used to play in those leagues which were not broadcast in India. Ravi Sir advised me to get clips."
He continued, "Both teams played the same brand of possession-based football. They were looking to cut in diagonally from the wings to hurl attack on the opponents."
Dinesh Nair and Biplab Poddar were the assistant referees while Pratap Singh was the fourth official that day.
Rowan concluded, "I started my career with Pratap on the same day, back in 1999. Biplab da was senior and much more experienced than me, so was Dinesh who had already done quite a few Kolkata Derby matches until then."
Meanwhile, Argentina won the clash on the night Rowan officiated the game courtesy of a Nicolas Otamendi's solitary goal. Rowan concluded by also adding that there is very little difference between AFC Elite referees from India and the ones from other countries.