Premier League official Michael Oliver has claimed that former Liverpool star Craig Bellamy was the most difficult player to referee. This comes after ex officials Mark Clattenburg and Howard Webb also pick the winger as the most difficult player to referee.

However, Oliver has since told The Athletic that he instead found the task of keeping Bellamy in check particularly challenging.

“Craig Bellamy was incredibly difficult. What you find is that some teams are difficult,” Oliver explained.

“Teams that aren’t winning for a starter — that’s the same at every level — and teams who aren’t used to losing, the frustration level is higher for them.

“But one player, it would be Bellamy. I watched him for two or three years — I’m a Newcastle fan and you wanted him in your team because he was a winner.

“But he was a nightmare to referee because he would argue about everything. If you told him it was black, he’d tell you it was white.”

Oliver is not the only official to highlight how troublesome Bellamy could be, with fellow former Premier League ref Howard Webb claiming he struggled to gain a rapport with the former City Forward

Webb, who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, suggested Bellamy was quick to dish out his opinion without seeing the side of the official.

Remarkably, a third referee who is now an ex-Premier League referee in Mark Clattenburg has echoed the sentiments of both Oliver and Webb and claimed Bellamy would also be his choice for most difficult player to referee.

The 46-year-old told the Mail: “I knew my relationship with him was on sticky ground when he squeezed my balls in the tunnel at the Etihad, and I don’t mean my match balls. 

“He would snarl at you and throw his arms around, constantly challenging you. His language was awful, just plain rude.

“As a referee, it is difficult when you have a problem player like that because you are drawn to him and it’s a distraction.

“Because I’m a Newcastle fan, I had the luxury of never refereeing him when I started. I just wish he had stayed at Newcastle for a bit longer!”

Bellamy ended his torment of referees in 2014 when he called time on his playing career. He made the switch to coaching with Belgian side Anderlecht alongside former teammate Vincent Kompany before stepping down from the role this year.

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