'I don't have an issue with bad publicity' – Premier League referee Mike Dean

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The 51-year-old will officiate in his 500th top-flight match when Arsenal host Sheffield United on Saturday and has reflected on an impressive career

Premier League referee Mike Dean says he does not fear bad publicity after overseeing almost 500 games in the English top flight.

Dean has been refereeing Premier League matches since 2000 and will reach the milestone during Saturday’s clash between Arsenal and Sheffield United.

After almost 20 years in the English top flight, the 51-year-old believes players respect him for not being a “robotic” official.

“For me, the players respond to the way I am and over the years have accepted my style and personality,” Dean told the Daily Mail.

“I’ve never been a ‘robotic’ referee. I try to be approachable and explain decisions briefly to players if they ask. The communication we have with them is really important.

“I don’t have an issue with the odd bad publicity I get as it’s all part of the game we love.

“I speak to a few referees after games on the way home, but I try not to worry about decisions – good or bad, I make every decision to the best of my ability.”

Although Saturday’s game at the Emirates Stadium is a big one for the veteran referee, the action between the players remains his top priority.

“When I first got onto the Premier League in 2000 there wasn’t a specific goal on amount of games I wanted to do.

“The retirement age of a referee was 48 back in 2000, but today, luckily, we don’t have an age limit.

“The game this weekend will be a special one of course, but there is still a match to officiate so my focus will be on that.”

Having officiated a big number of top flight, European and international games, Dean has a lot of highlights to choose from when asked about the most memorable moment of his career.

But the moment Manchester City sealed the Premier League crown through a late winner from Sergio Aguero in 2012 sticks out in his mind.

“With what was at stake and to be trusted to referee such an important game on the final day of the season and with the ending, it will live long in the memory,” he added.

“As a refereeing team, we didn’t know what was happening in other games but you could sense that City needed a winner to win the title and when Aguero went through on goal, there was only going to be one outcome.”

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