Whistler Willie on top of world

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LANARKSHIRE referee Willie Collum has received good news at the European Championships after being elevated to FIFA elite referee level.

For the first time, Scotland now has more than one official operating in the highest echelons of the game as the 33-year-old St Aidan’s High and former Cardinal Newman High teacher joins Craig Thomson on the 24-strong list of the world’s leading referees.

Both men are in Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012 and Collum said: “I have been involved in refereeing since I was 14 and this news makes that commitment all the more worthwhile.

“It is great news for Scottish refereeing. It shows the work we put in is being recognised at the highest level and shows other referees there is no barrier to success.

“Working in such an intense environment as Scottish football gives you tremendous experience and in the last few years we have all had to handle a variety of situations.”

Scottish head of referee development John Fleming believes Collum’s promotion is a testament to the work undertaken by the Scottish FA’s referee development department.

He said: “Willie is one of the most dedicated, focused and professional people I have met. His drive and search for constant improvement has taken him to the top of refereeing. Craig and Willie are now role models for all aspiring referees.

“They have shown that the path to the very top is possible and the incentive is there for others to follow.”