Click here to submit your sports results for The Canberra Times

Australian World Cup referee Ben Williams' brush with Lionel Messi

He describes Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi as ''just another bloke with a number on his back'' and became the first Australian to referee in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

And Ben Williams hopes his performances on the game's biggest stage in Brazil inspire future generations to pick up a whistle and take up officiating.

Williams has returned to Canberra after achieving his life-long dream of refereeing at a FIFA World Cup, where had officiated in three games, including the round of 16 fixture between Costa Rica and Greece.

Williams was also the fourth official for the quarter-final involving eventual runners-up Argentina and Belgium at the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasilia.

He said the experience of officiating at a World Cup surpassed all of his expectations and he will remember it as one of the greatest moments of his life.

None greater than rubbing shoulders with Messi, the Barcelona attacking midfielder voted as the player of the tournament.


"It lived up and exceeded the expectations, it was a dream come true wherever a World Cup would be, let alone in the spiritual home of football in Brazil,'' Williams said.

"When I was the fourth official, I had to do the checks in the dressingroom and I walked straight past Messi as I walked in.

"You can't afford to be awestruck because if you are you're not doing your job properly.

"He's just another bloke with a number on his back.''

Williams and his assistants, Matthew Cream and Hakan Anaz, were based in Rio de Janeiro during the tournament.

They had to wait until the 26th match until they got the call-up for the game between Ecuador and Honduras at Curitiba, with Ecudaor prevailing 2-1.

It was then off to Sao Paulo for Belgium's 1-0 win against the Korea Republic before getting the nod for the round of 16 match between Costa Rica and Greece.

Williams only found out during a visit to see the Christ the Redeemer statue that he and his assistants would be flying to Recife the following day.

Costa Rica progressed to the quarter-finals after winning the penalty shoot-out 5-3 when scores were tied at 1-all after 120 minutes.

"It was something pretty cool to be involved in,'' Williams said.

"There's pressure in any match you do at the World Cup and let alone a knock-out match.

"You know what it means to the countries, but again you just prepare the best you can.''

The 37-year-old will return to his day job as a physical education teacher at Belconnen High School next week before preparing for the upcoming A-League season.

He then hopes to be chosen for the Asian Cup to be held in Australia in January next year, especially since Canberra will host seven games including a quarter-final.

"It would be fantastic to be appointed to my second Asian Cup and for my friends and family to see me do an international live,'' Williams said.

"That would be wonderful, but I'm not getting ahead of myself, I haven't been selected yet.

"I'll have a couple of weeks to recuperate then see what the next challenges are.''