Bobby Madden: Referee takes charge of Scottish Cup final after battle with cancer

Referee Bobby Madden
Referee Bobby Madden will take charge of his first Scottish Cup final on Saturday
Scottish Cup final: Celtic v Aberdeen
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 27 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; TV, radio and text coverage on BBC Sport website

Bobby Madden admits refereeing the Scottish Cup final was the furthest thought from his mind while he recovered from thyroid cancer.

He takes charge of Saturday's meeting between Celtic and Aberdeen, but for a time last year was not sure if he would continue officiating.

"The surgeon said I should focus on going back to work in a normal job," Madden said.

"The cup final wasn't what I was thinking about, it was my well-being."

The official was first diagnosed before last summer's European Championships in France, but delayed treatment so that he could be part of the team assisting fellow Scottish referee Willie Collum at the finals.

Cup final 'honour'

Madden started this season, then went for surgery after taking charge of Celtic's 4-1 win over Aberdeen in August. He returned to refereeing two months later.

"Only when I was first diagnosed," replied Madden after being asked if he thought his career may be over.

"I realised very quickly after the surgery that everything had gone well and that I would go back to refereeing. Whether I thought I would come back as quickly as I did, maybe not so. That was due to the care I was given and the focus and support around me.

"I took the decision in December 2015 to focus totally on my refereeing and I gave up my job because of the demands of domestic and international football. So really I wanted to get back to football to prove that I'd made the right decision and to be successful in refereeing.

Rangers defender Clint Hill and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers felt Madden should have awarded a penalty for Clint Hill's challenge on Leigh Griffiths

"When the consideration was being given to the Scottish Cup final, I'd had a good season so I was hopeful and when the call came in to say I was refereeing it, it was fantastic news and an honour."

Madden believes this has been his best season as an official, and in March took charge of his first Old Firm derby. The game at Celtic Park finished 1-1, although the referee was criticised by Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers for not awarding a penalty for a challenge by Rangers defender Clint Hill on Leigh Griffiths late in the game.

'I hope the talking point isn't the referee'

The 38-year-old describes Rodgers and his Aberdeen counterpart Derek McInnes as "good guys" and says he is preparing thoroughly for the final.

"We have independent assessors who watch us in every match and my marks would dictate that it's been my most successful season," Madden explained.

Referee Bobby Madden
Madden returned after two months' treatment for cancer to take charge of Brechin City v Livingston in October

"I'm going through the same training programme that I would for every match. I look at teams' tactics, how they set up at set pieces.

"Around 28% of goals are scored from set pieces, so it's important that referees are aware of any potential tactics or scenarios that teams might run through. I'm putting a lot of attention on how both teams will set up and in matches against each other this season.

"Players are under pressure, and we need to accept that as referees. Some players deal with that differently, but there are some who every week are the same and you can always talk to them. There are players on the field on Saturday from both teams who I know I can talk to if there's anything I want to address."

Madden - who will have two additional assistants behind each goal at Hampden on Saturday - hopes that, for all he is looking forward to the responsibility of taking charge of the final, he is not the focus of post-match discussions.

"The cup final is about the stories of the players and the managers, the tactics, the goals," he added. "Every official hopes that the evening after the cup final, the talking point isn't the referee."

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