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Football: Leicester referee Kevin Friend can't wait to blow whistle on Capital One Cup final


Despite Leicester City being knocked out of the FA Cup last week, the county will still have a representative in a domestic cup final this season.

Leicester referee Kevin Friend has been chosen to officiate Sunday's Capital One Cup final between Swansea and Bradford at Wembley.

Friend, who lives in the city, was selected based on his impressive performances throughout the season.

His appointment is yet another high-profile game to add to the 41-year-old's list, having refereed this season's Community Shield between Manchester City and Chelsea.

"It is one of the major championship finals in the country, so it will be a very proud moment for me," said Friend.

"A referee's ambitions are to be involved in the leading domestic football finals – this and the FA Cup final.

"Along with the Community Shield final I refereed last year, this is definitely the highlight of my career."

Friend started refereeing in 1985, at the age of 14, and has been on the elite Select Group list since the start of the 2009-10 season.

It will not be the first time he has refereed at England's biggest footballing stage.

He refereed at Wembley for the FA Vase final in 2009, between Whitley Bay and Glossop North End.

So, is the Leicester referee nervous, excited, or looking forward to the biggest day in his career so far?

"All three," he said. "Everyone gets nervous, I get nervous before every game. I refereed in a park game the other weekend and I still felt the nerves. But that's just part-and-parcel of the game.

"But once you get to the ground, you start to calm down a little bit with the environment of the changing rooms.

"Once you cross that white line, you just get into reffing mode."

As hard as it may seem, Friend said he will not be overawed by the occasion.

"You just have to treat it like any other game," he said.

"I have refereed both sides before, so I know them both well. It helps because I know them and they know me.

"They know how I referee, so they know what to expect."

It will be a proud moment not just for Friend but also for his family, who will be at Wembley on Sunday to watch the big game.

He said: "My wife, Rachel, will be coming down to watch along with my two daughters, Jodie, who's 10, and Lauren who is three. It will be Lauren's first ever game, too.

"Jodie's first game was also at Wembley, when I refereed the FA Vase final in 2009."

However, you will not be seeing Friend refereeing at the King Power Stadium any time soon as he is not allowed to officiate in games involving teams he supports.

"I have got two teams, Bristol City, because I was born in Bristol, and also Leicester because I live here," he said.

"I do go down to the King Power quite a bit. They have got a good bunch of lads at the minute and a really good manager in Nigel Pearson – they will succeed.

"Everyone in football always wants it now but, sometimes, it takes a little bit more time to get it right, and it looks like they have."

Football: Leicester referee Kevin Friend can't wait to blow whistle on Capital One Cup final

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