If there’s a Premier League referee who loves the limelight, then it’s Mike Dean. So we reckon he’ll love this tribute to his 500 games as the man in the middle (of the spotlight).
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A staple of the Premier League scene since the turn of the millennium, referee Mike Dean will oversee the 500th game of his long and distinguished career when Arsenal host Sheffield United on Saturday.
As well as being one of English football’s most recognisable officials, Dean has also carved himself a niche as one of the most ostentatious.
Indeed, the 51-year-old has quite the track record when it comes to odd behaviour, confusing mannerisms and scene-stealing flourishes. Here are 10 of our favourite moments.
1. The Box Office “Penalty Point”
The finest example we can find of the Dean penalty point was delivered during a game between Chelsea and Man City last year. Powerful and precise, delivered from a textbook “half-squat” position for maximum impact.
Has Mike Dean given a penalty? The footage is frustratingly inconclusive pic.twitter.com/yzbq5GUL51
— Scott Innes (@Flying_Inside) February 10, 2019
2. Penalty Point Mk. II
With additional crane of the neck (to convey full comprehension of the incident) and hair-trigger execution. The Big D’s Three Ps: Pause, ponder and “POW!”
— Goodbrand Stats (@StatsChristian) April 6, 2018
3. The Triple Penalty Showpiece
A true grandmaster of spot-kick theatre, Dean once forced Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard to take a penalty kick not once, not twice, but thrice just to maintain the intense drama a few minutes longer.
Throwback to when Lamps had to take 3 penalties because Mike Dean was desperate for us to lose…pic.twitter.com/fhEuKEbuVm
— Uber Chelsea FC 🏆 (@UberCheIseaFC) October 22, 2017
4. Tranmere Talisman (Part 1)
While it can’t be proven by conventional science, there is a school of thought that Tranmere Rovers’ promotion push of 2018-19 was almost solely fuelled by Dean’s continued presence in the stands.
🎉🏟 – MIKE DEAN AND TRANMERE ARE HEADING TO WEMBLEY!
The Premier League referee cannot hide his excitement at The New Lawn as his side secure their place in the play-off final! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZCrOur7xbn
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 13, 2019
5. Tranmere Talisman (Part 2)
Even when not in the midst of the action, all eyes are eternally on Dean — the man whose mere presence at Wembley propelled Rovers through the playoff final and up into League One.
Tranmere Rovers fan and referee Mike Dean can’t quite believe his eyes.pic.twitter.com/Ol90qjqatx
— The Football League Paper (@TheLeaguePaper) May 25, 2019
6. The Nonchalant Nutmeg
A conduit for sporting law and order, Dean forbids himself from getting physically involved in the football match going on around him — instead preferring to hover above and among the action like a golden, shimmering, spectral hawk of justice.
7. Pure Impartiality
When refereeing, Dean obviously transcends all club allegiances and is therefore perfectly willing to celebrate when either team score on his pitch.
8. Play On!
One of the earliest known examples of Dean honing his craft dates from 1998, when he hit the scene with this truly breathtaking wave of “play on!” during a Wycombe Wanderers game.
— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) September 6, 2019
9. The Arthouse Booking
Dean has been brandishing his yellow card with aplomb for decades and has transformed the caution into an artform over the years. First we had the beautifully dismissive “off-hand finger flick,” which soon gave way to the pioneering magnum opus: “The No-Look Booking.”
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) December 20, 2016
Flick of the yellow card. Peak Mike Dean. pic.twitter.com/D1yV9sjhCE
— AFCAMDEN (@AFCAMDEN) January 13, 2019
10. “Off You Pop”
Lewis Dunk may go on to enjoy a peerless footballing career, but he’ll forever be known as the first man reduced to a quivering mess by the red card/three-word catchphrase combo of a true heavyweight of the game.
— Football Mumble (@football_mumble) December 23, 2018
Quakes star’s NBA trickshot
Should Steph Curry ever step aside, Golden State can rest assured that San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson is waiting in the wings as his ready-made replacement.
After being challenged to sink a long-range effort from the tunnel at the Chase Center, Thompson mixed it up a bit with a football trick shot and sunk it in spectacular style.
— Tommy Thompson (@tomthom11) January 17, 2020
And from behind the backboard too — though the look of sheer shock on Thompson’s face when the ball swished through the hoop slightly gave away how slim he thought his chances were of making the shot.
Still, very impressive.
Khedira x Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers star Josh Richardson was recently seen arriving at the stadium wearing a Juventus replica shirt, complete with Sami Khedira‘s name and number on the back.
If wasn’t long before the video reached Khedira himself, with the Germany international applauding Richardson’s choice of jersey.
— Sami Khedira (@SamiKhedira) January 16, 2020
Juve’s official account also praised Richardson for making a “winning entrance.”
Indeed, the Sixers did go on to win, beating the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center.