Goodbye, Michael

KOCHI, DEC 30. After an eventful seven-year stint, Kerala's international referee Michael Andrews retires from the FIFA panel on Monday.

``I can put my chest out now and say that I've done justice to the job. I've been fair and my conscience is clear,'' said Andrews. Andrews, a former Services player, was attracted to officiating after watching FIFA referee M. V. Suvarna in action some 15 years ago.

``His command over the players really impressed me. Soon I began to take my first lessons and earned my first FIFA badge in 1995,'' he said.

Andrews, who is settled in Kochi, has officiated in some major events like the pre-World Cup, pre-Olympic, Asian Club championship, Asian Cup, Nehru Gold Cup and the Sahara Cup.

He is now a part of Indian football history too. For he was the mentor, guide and motivation behind Bentla D'couth, the country's first woman referee on the FIFA panel. ``It was Michael Andrews' guidance that brought me this far,'' Bentla has often said. Andrews, now 45, plans to turn instructor now, to share his rich experience with the younger lot.

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