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Pieter Vink: “Looking back on a fantastic career as referee”

Pieter Vink’s alarm goes every morning at 5.30. Waking up, making sandwiches for lunch and off to work. The former top referee unfortunately had to quit his “wonderful career as pro referee”. During the first years of his refereein career he still worked as police officer, but the last ten years refereeing was is fulltime job. “If it rained in the morning, I could stay in bed a little longer and train later during the day”, he says during a meeting at the referee association COVS Leiden. “I can’t do that anymore. Nowadays, I’m a civil servant now, working in the municipal enforcement and supervision department as a coordinator.” He also appears as tv pundit on Ziggo Sport.

Pieter Vink gets certificate at COVS Leiden
Pieter Vink (right) gets certificate at COVS Leiden

The top referee looks back very positively on his career. “I don’t think I made the most of it, but I had a very nice career.” He climbed the international refereeing ranks very quickly. The Dutch ref goes from group 3 to Elite in only one and a half year. He is referee at the 2008 European Championships. He also officiates CL quarter finals like Juventus vs Real Madrid and Arsenal vs Liverpool. Adriaan Inia and Hans ten Hoove are part of his refereeing team. Two guys who have become friends for life. “A fantastic time. I’ve seen wonderful places. I visited all countries in Europe and was also active outside Europe. I even officiated the intense derby between Steau and Dinamo Bucharest.”

Most successful referee of Leiden RA

Back to the start. When Vink is sixteen he becomes a referee and he is now a member of Leiden RA for 34 years. During the meeting he gets a certificate, because he ended his professional career. Chairman Jan de Jong gives Vink a gift as “most successful referee of the Leiden referee association”.

Vink looks back on his career during the evening He thinks he would never reach the top level in the present time, because the selection process is different. “I’ve never been a runner and at amateur level I failed the fitness test. Nowadays, focus is on the physical part of refereeing. European referee boss Colina is a top athlete. Because he is, he expects the same from his pupils. Maybe we carry it on too far. You’ll see more and more ideal sons-in-law, fewer leaders. René Temmink, Mario van der Ende and me. We were more leaders than runners on the pitch.”

Selfie with Pieter Vink
Selfie with Pieter Vink

The referee from Noordwijk also prepares differently for his games than some of his colleagues. He knows the most important things, but doesn’t want to know everything. “That a player always turns to his left is not relevant for me. When I am on the pitch, I will notice what he does. I’ll use my senses. When I was at the top of the amateur level, I even weighed far above hundred kilograms. Then it’s important you can read the game.”

Comeback after an injury

On March 8th 2015, Vink officiated the game Feyenoord – NAC, but then disaster strikes. A hamstring injury. After a long rehabilitation process Vink is back on the football pitch on April 1st 2016. More than a year later, but he is back. On the KNVB website he says: “I was looking forward to this moment. The first whistle will be very special when I have entered the pitch”. His performance is good. “During the game I spot a red card from a different angle”, he says. A nice comeback. “After that I whistled then more games and even some beautiful ones, like the play-off final for an Europa League place.”

Unfortunately he pulls his hamstring again during a fitness test. On July 29th is his farewell game between Feyenoord and Real Sociedad, but he has to call it off due to his injury. “Feyenoord stadium De Kuip has always been the most beautiful one to whistle at. The atmosphere, the experience.” It does not influence his performance. “On that level it doesn’t matter, because otherwise you will not make it to the top as referee.”

Want to know what you can learn from Vink’s comeback? Check my previous blog with 3 important lessons when you get injured.

Comeback of Pieter Vink

Pieter Vink’s future

A role as video referee suits him and he loves it. It’s a project he has been involved in for years. He was the referee behind the screens during the first live test of the video referee in the game between Feyenoord and sc Heerenveen. With the current KNVB policies he will not become a video referee in The Netherlands. But he does not rule out a comeback in the world of football. “I think I can be important for referees or maybe at a club. Because of the many years of experiences I can be very valuable. But a challenging job at the local government or in politics is also an option.”

It is unlikely we will see Pieter make a return to the field of play, at grassroots level or otherwise. “And definitely not as a referee. I’d just be afraid I’d turn into a caricature of myself, behave like a cock of the walk. Time to call it a day. I had a wonderful career.”

PS: Want to know what you can learn from Vink’s comeback? Check my previous blog with 3 important lessons when you get injured.


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