When Pochettino hugged referee Koh
Match officials recount memorable incidents during ICC tournament at the National Stadium
Singapore referee Ronnie Koh, 40, will always remember the International Champions Cup (ICC), especially Tottenham Hotspur's 3-2 win over Juventus on July 21.
Koh, who was an assistant referee during the match at the National Stadium, told The New Paper: "In the second half, Lucas Moura's shot cannoned off a Juventus defender and ricocheted off the Brazilian before heading out of touch.
"I signalled for a goal-kick, which was the right decision.
"But Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was adamant that it should have been a corner-kick for his side. He ran towards me and shouted, 'Can you please give us a corner-kick?'
"I then said I couldn't because that would be a wrong decision and those in the stands and millions watching from home can see that as well.
"He then laughed and said 'Well, then at least give me a hug'."
Koh, a Leeds United fan, then received a hug from the Spurs manager on the touchline.
While it may have been a pre-season exhibition match for the team, it was more than the usual outing that the referees had become accustomed to.
The Singapore officials handled the matches on July 20 and July 21 and they shared their experiences with other local referees at an internal session on Sunday.
The experiences will aid in raising the standard of officiating in the Singapore Premier League (SPL).
"For everyone of us, it is always an honour and a privilege to be involved in these games, especially for our younger colleagues. The memory and experience are invaluable," said Koh.
"(During the sharing session), we discussed the technical aspects and how different it was from the SPL.
"The referees' department is a close-knit family so, through the sharing, everyone can learn from the experience."
Asked if he was overawed by the 50,443-strong crowd, Koh said that this was not his most testing setting.
In 2017, he was an assistant referee during a World Cup qualifier between Iran and China at the Azadi Stadium in Teheran, watched by almost 80,000.
"In that game, it was difficult to make a decision especially against the home team. There was nothing friendly about that game."
It is not just the lessons that the men in black took home. There were memorable moments to look back on as well.
G. Letchman, a 29-year-old Certis Cisco fitness trainer who refereed Manchester United's 1-0 win over Inter Milan on July 20, was particularly impressed by Frenchman Paul Pogba's calm and placid persona.
Said the Barcelona fan, who has been a referee since 2014: "During the game, there was an instance where (Anthony) Martial went to ground and I waved play on.
"Pogba was jogging along with me and asked very respectfully for an explanation as to why I didn't give a foul.
"I explained to him and he said 'fair enough' and jogged on.
"It's nice to see a player of his calibre asking in a nice way, accepting it and moving on with the game."
Koh shared that a distance and heart-rate tracker that all referees don during matches showed that he had covered eight kilometres compared to the six during SPL games.
Letchman and Koh will now put their new-found experiences to the test when handling the Asian Champions League assignments at the end of next month and the World Cup qualifiers in September.
Koh said: " We must accept all the negative and positive comments.
"When you get such an assignment (ICC), it is a small reward for all the hard work done over the years. It is a passion. You have to enjoy it."