Willie Collum has received more good news at the UEFA European Championships after being elevated to FIFA Elite Referee level.
For the first time ever, Scotland now has more than one official operating at the highest echelons of the game. The 33-year-old joins Craig Thomson on the 24-strong list of the world’s leading referees.
Morag Pirie also becomes the country’s first female referee to make it to Elite Development level.
Both Collum and Thomson are in Poland and Ukraine as part of the Scotland referee team at UEFA Euro 2012 but in an exclusive interview with the Scottish FA website, Willie considers the announcement the culmination of a 20-year dedication to refereeing.
“I have been involved in refereeing since I was 14 and this excellent news makes that commitment all the more worthwhile,” he said.
“Obviously it is great news for me but it is great news for Scottish refereeing.
“We have never had two referees in that category before and I am absolutely delighted to have been nominated. It shows the work we put is being recognised at the highest level and it shows other referees who are making their own journeys that there really is no barrier to success.
“Working in as intense an environment as Scottish football gives you tremendous experience as a referee and, certainly in the last few years we have all had to handle a variety of situations.”
While the rest of the Scottish referee team await their first group match, Denmark v Portugal, Willie has already made his debut as Fourth Official for the defending champions’ 1-1 draw against Italy on Sunday.
“That experience has served us well when we have been appointed to European and international matches and now that the Scottish referee team are at the Euro Championships, I believe we are well equipped to deal with the unique pressure and environment of a major international tournament.
“I would like to thank the Scottish FA and [Head of Referee Development] John Fleming for their support – not just to myself but the whole refereeing fraternity - and also to Hugh Dallas, who remains a huge supporter and champion for Scottish refereeing in his position at UEFA.”
John Fleming believes Willie’s promotion is a testament to the work undertaken by the Scottish FA’s Referee Development Department.
“Firstly, I am absolutely thrilled for Willie,” he said. “He is one of the most dedicated, focused and professional people I have met, never mind in refereeing.
“That drive and search for constant improvement has now taken him to the top of refereeing. Having Craig and Willie at Elite level andd Morag at Elite Development is a huge boost to Scottish refereeing and they are now role models for all aspiring referees.
"They have shown that the path to the very top is possible and the incentive is now there for others to follow.”
Morag Pirie added: “This has come as a wonderful surprise.
"The Scottish FA’s programme ensures that our referees are professional in all but name; from the training regime, workshops and feedback mechanisms.
"I am delighted that those efforts have been recognised and it shows that hard work does pay off.”