New Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart says there will be no hard feelings when he comes up against World Cup final referee Howard Webb on Saturday.
Van der Vaart is in line to make his Tottenham debut against West Brom at the Hawthorns following his deadline day transfer from Real Madrid.
The Holland star’s first taste of the Premier League will be officiated by the man who Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk and his players blamed for their World Cup final defeat against Spain.
Webb will take charge of a competitive game for the first time since Spain’s 1-0 win over Holland in Johannesburg in July, when he issued nine yellow cards to van der Vaart’s team and sent off Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga.
The 39-year-old, who was criticised for failing to send off Holland’s Nigel De Jong, also blundered by not awarding a clear corner to the Netherlands just minutes before Andres Iniesta scored Spain’s winner.
But van der Vaart, an extra-time substitute in the final, doesn’t hold a grudge against the former police sergeant from Yorkshire.
“It’s Webb?” van der Vaart said when asked if he knew who would be refereeing Saturday’s game.
“I don’t have a problem with him. But he was a little bit unlucky in the final.”
Webb, who was given an extended rest after the World Cup, will have his assistants from the final, Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey, alongside him for his return to Premier League duty.
He has picked up his whistle only once since the World Cup, when he took charge of an amateur Rotherham Cup match between Thrybergh Working Men’s Club and Wickersley Social at the end of August.
Webb, who refereed the 2010 Champions League final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, will be in for a more testing time at the Hawthorns and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp admits he has had his run-ins with the official before.
“Howard is a top referee, I just don’t seem to have any luck with him,” Redknapp said. “But he’s a great guy and was a credit in the World Cup.”
Redknapp was furious when Webb awarded Manchester United a controversial penalty when Heurelho Gomes was ruled to have fouled Michael Carrick during a game Tottenham lost 5-2 after leading 2-0 in April 2009.
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