Olivier Marteel will become the first Belgian to referee the Crucible final at the Betfred World Championship, which starts next month.
Marteel has previously refereed several major finals, including last week’s World Grand Prix, and officiated the semi-final between Mark Selby and Neil Robertson at the Crucible last year.
“I had dreamed of refereeing the World Championship final, but I never thought it would happen,” said Marteel. “When I started out in refereeing, I never expected to get very far.
“I first went to the Crucible as a fan in 1992. Even then, I knew how special the venue was. And of course the first time I refereed there, I felt it even more – I was shaking. I will be a bit nervous for the final, but that’s a good thing. It gets your adrenaline going, gives you a kick, and makes you focus.
“I’m very proud to be the first Belgian to referee the final, and the second from continental Europe, after Jan Verhaas. My whole career has been half for me, and half for Belgian snooker.”
Father-of-one Marteel, who was once a keen snooker player and has a top break of 138, combines his refereeing work with a full time job as a radiology nurse.
“I will be doing night shifts before going to Sheffield to make sure I have enough time off,” he added. “It takes a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it for me because I love snooker so much.
“Making a mistake as a referee is nothing like making a mistake in a hospital. Inject too much medicine, and you could kill someone. That’s a bit different to not putting a ball back correctly.”
The Betfred World Championship runs from April 18 to May 4, with the best players on the planet chasing the famous trophy and a top prize of £300,000. Tickets are sold out for most sessions – for the latest availability call 0844 65 65 147 or visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
The qualifying rounds at Pond’s Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield run from April 8 to 15. Tickets cost just £10 per day (plus booking fee). To book call www.sivtickets.com or call 0114 2233777.
The World Championship is supported by Sheffield City Council.