Newcastle United St James’s Park home has been named as one of the top 10 football stadiums in the world by ex-FIFA referee Keith Hackett.
The Sheffield-born whistler spent 30 years as a top referee, and was asked to compile his favourite grounds by refereeing website You-Are-The-Ref.com.
Placing St James’s at No 5 on his list, Hackett said: “The Geordies make a hell of a noise and they cheer every ball.
“I can remember arriving here to referee the North East derby between Newcastle and Sunderland, whose fans are equally passionate.
“It had been pouring down with rain all night and the pitch was totally waterlogged.
“It was obvious that there was a strong possibility the game would be called off, but a senior police office explained that the city was full of fans of both clubs.
The Geordies make a hell of a noise and they cheer every ball.Keith Hackett, former FIFA referee
“He said there would be a risk to public order if the game were called off – so we decided to go ahead.
“When we tossed the coin the Newcastle captain looked at me and I said: “Just don’t kick it into the far corner, it’s a bit deep and I am a bad swimmer.”
Other grounds which make the list include Wembley, Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, Real Madrid’s Bernabeu, and Manchester United’s Old Trafford.
Hackett was acknowledged as one of the top officials in the game until he retired in 1994.
Since then he has worked as a referees’ assessor, before becoming general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board.
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