The Premier League is contended by many to be the best league in the world. So, it makes sense for England to have some great referees too. In this regard, nobody is more famous or infamous than Mike Dean. The league’s most experienced referee has also been one of its most familiar faces.
BREAKING: Mike Dean will officially retire at the end of the season.
End of An Era. pic.twitter.com/n1Si2Mgj9p
— BenchWarmers🇺🇦 (@BeWarmers) March 21, 2022
Whether it be for his casual shrug and shake of the head before brandishing a card. Or for his no-nonsense attitude in sending a player off. Or when he points to the penalty spot in important moments of important matches. The man loves the limelight and loves being the villain too.
So, the news of his retirement from on-field officiating was met with sadness from onlookers. Dean can still affect games as he is poised to become a full-time VAR official.
In honour of Mike Dean retiring, here’s a compilation I made of his greatest moments. Really beautiful stuff. pic.twitter.com/i3ilo1rIzs
— Joshua Jones (@joshuapsjones) March 20, 2022
Moreover, there are still a lot of matches left for Dean to have his final flourish. In honour of Dean and his crazy eyes, FootTheBall counts down his top moments in the league so far.
The ‘no-look’ bookings
Mike Dean is a showman and you cannot be one without doing your job while looking the other way. Ryan Fraser, Ross Barkley are among the many others who have received a card from Dean where he is not facing them.
Indeed, in the era of referees calling over players to book them, Dean just casually raises the card in the general direction. That is how you make a name for yourself- follow in the footsteps of Ronaldinho while officiating.
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) December 20, 2016
Mike Dean stepover king
Who doesn’t love a perfect fake? The ball travelling towards you and you let it pass in between your legs for a teammate behind. Well, Mike Dean is certainly an expert in leaving the ball through and he is a referee!
On several instances, while the ball has looked to be hitting him, Dean has pulled out this trick. Of course, he could have just stepped aside or even jumped, but as he himself had explained, “If the ball comes towards me I will let it go through my legs, I love a stepover.”
Mike Dean’s stepover made that goal… pic.twitter.com/QsFPq3jTFH
— Jay Motty (@JayMotty) February 5, 2018
Secret Spurs fan?
One of Mike Dean’s most bizarre moments in a career full of them. In 2015, Spurs welcomed Aston Villa in a physical affair. Dean played the advantage as Moussa Dembele barged off Ciaran Clark to open the scoring.
Immediately following this, the camera panned to the referee who could be seen running past the Spurs players with arms aloft. Maybe he realized what was going on as Dean suddenly started sprinting back to centre line and pointing to the spot.
Mike Dean celebrating like he had £5 @ 18/1 on Dembele scoring first last night! pic.twitter.com/Y96jdwehnq
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) November 3, 2015
Red card with dialogue
Getting sent off is never a great feeling for a player. It is made even worse when the referee throws in casual nonchalance while doing it. In 2018, Mike Dean was officiating Brighton against Bournemouth when Lewis Dunk went in flying on an opposition player.
Having already been cautioned previously, everyone inside the stadium knew what was coming. Mike Dean was quick to brandish a second yellow and eventually the red but not before mouthing “off you pop” to the burly defender.
😫 – “Off you pop” pic.twitter.com/hMQOrOmFGM
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) December 23, 2018
Don’t touch me
Long before the pandemic forbid physical contact, Mike Dean was already having none of it. Often times, players would come to protest a decision or talk about something and get too friendly with the referee. Well, Dean is clearly not a fan of players touching him anywhere and likes to maintain his distance. One can see from his deadpan expressions what he thinks of someone when they try to get in his personal space.
Cannot believe his eyes
One of the most enduring legacies of Mike Dean will be the moments leading up to a booking or a big decision. The impossibly graceful shrug of the shoulders, a crinkle up of the mouth and cocking his head to the side. It is like asking the player(s)…what else do you expect now? Dean has mastered the art of being absolutely the box office entertainer through his expressions alone.
Hiding the ball
Mike Dean knows a moment when he sees one. Manchester City had thumped Chelsea in 2019 with Sergio Aguero scoring a hat-trick. Traditionally, that means he will get to take the match ball home after the match. As the full-time whistle sounded and players started shaking hands, Dean seized his chance.
He knew Aguero would be approaching him for the ball and hid it behind his back, under his shirt.
Only Mike Dean could steal the show from Sergio Aguero last night 😂
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 11, 2019
The Argentine striker ambled towards him for the ball and Dean had to fetch it out. One of the most hilarious moments in post-match history and Mike Dean had to be there.
No time for sarcasm
Another moment of Mike Dean being…Mike Dean. In an FA Cup match between Arsenal and Portsmouth in 2020, it was Matteo Guendouzi’s turn to feel the wrath. The Gunners had won a free-kick which Guendouzi attempted to take quickly. However, play was pulled back for the ball being in the incorrect position.
Nobody inserts themselves into Mike Dean’s spotlight like this Guendouzi. Yellow card for attempting to hog the limelight pic.twitter.com/az4JT63WsN
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) March 2, 2020
Guendouzi tried again and the same result. This time, the French midfielder picked the ball up high above his head before running and placing it down theatrically in front of Dean.
However, the veteran referee was having none of it and booked Guendouzi for “sarcastically” going about the whole thing.
King of red
Mike Dean loves a lot of things on the pitch. A red card is high on that list. He has shown a 114 of them so far in the Premier League. That number could easily reach 120 or surpass by the end of 2021-22.
Needless to say, there have been several controversial and rather unnecessary ones. One of the most egregious came in February 2021. West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek’s elbow very lightly brushed the head of Fulham hitman Aleksander Mitrovic during a Hammers free-kick.
🟥 Tomas Soucek's red card against Fulham has been rescinded.
Mike Dean has given more red cards than any other referee this season, 33% of them have been overturned. pic.twitter.com/hAkDvyvnLE
— Betfair (@Betfair) February 8, 2021
It was totally accidental for everyone to see except for Dean and VAR. After consultation, Mike Dean decided to send Soucek in a decision that baffled everyone watching. As expected, the decision was overturned on appeal. Furthermore, it was revealed that he had received death threats over that call.
Every referee has a favourite team. Mike Dean loves Tranmere Rovers. One of the most endearing clips of him emerged in 2019. Tranmere were playing Forest Green in the League Two playoff semi-final. Dean was celebrating wildly when Tranmere scored and eventually made it through to the final.
— The Spurs Web ⚪️ (@thespursweb) May 14, 2019
He was seen standing on the seats and joining in the hordes of travelling fans. Moreover, being a referee himself had no bearing on some of his language as Dean revealed he did sing “the referee’s a w*****.” Never change, Mike Dean.