Baltimorean Paul Tamberino was named Major League Soccer's Referee of the Year for the fourth straight season yesterday afternoon, then confirmed he was retiring from the professional ranks.
"Really, I'm flabbergasted. I never expect something like this," said Tamberino, 48. "I just go out and do my games. It's great that I'm recognized, but I never expected a fourth time."
Tamberino, who refereed middle school matches in Baltimore city and county yesterday afternoon, will close his professional career Sunday as part of the four-person crew working MLS Cup 2001 in Columbus, Ohio. He has been an official in all six MLS championship games and is one of few Americans to officiate at the international level.
Tamberino, who played soccer at and graduated from Archbishop Curley and the University of Maryland in the mid-1970s, has been bothered recently by a cranky right knee.
He's stepping down from the pro ranks, he said, "maybe [because of] a little bit of fatigue, a little bit of burnout. Maybe it's time. I've been refereeing for 27 years. I need a little rest, [but] I definitely want to stay involved in soccer."
Tamberino said he hopes to continue refereeing local college, high school and middle school games and eventually get involved in the teaching end of his work.