BY ALAN TEMPLE – CAPITAL CITY PRESS
The stature of Scotland’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Ireland has been underlined after the man deemed the best referee on the planet was chosen to take charge of the encounter in Dublin.
Italian Nicola Rizzoli, an architect by trade, reached the pinnacle of refereeing last summer when he was selected to oversee the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina.
And he will be the man in the middle for the mouth-watering clash at the Aviva Stadium.
The 43-year-old is a veteran of Rome and Milan derbies and was in charge for both the 2010 Europa League final involving Fulham and the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley.
Saturday’s fixture will be the first time Rizzoli has ever officiated a game involving the Scottish national team – however he has proved to be a good omen for clubs from these shores.
He has taken charge of four European matches involving Celtic and Rangers, with the Hoops registering a 0-0 draw with Benfica in 2012 and a 1-0 win over Dinamo Moscow in 2009, while the Gers played out draws against Valencia and Panathinaikos in 2010 and 2008 respectively.