There are three certainties in this life: death, taxes and Mike Dean stealing the show on whatever football pitch he finds himself.
But such is the enduring reputation of the Premier League’s most recognisable referee, even the very mention of his name now manages to steal the limelight from one of the season’s biggest fixtures.
When Dean (or Deanie, as he probably insists on being called by his mates) was announced as the man in the middle for Sunday’s North London derby, both Arsenal and Tottenham fans were united in their outpouring of rage at the decision.
Will he be biased against Arsenal? Will he be biased against Spurs?
Will he do an exuberant foxtrot dance en route to sending someone off? And, most importantly, how many winks can he get away with to the players and cameras?
We can’t wait to see how the latest episode of The Mike Dean Chronicles unfolds at the Emirates. To help warm us up for his bamboozling decisions and bizarre behaviour, we’ve rounded up 10 of his most notorious refereeing incidents to date.
And there’s only one place we can start…
1. Celebrating a Tottenham goal vs Arsenal
Unsurprisingly the go-to clip for Gooners unhappy with the news, this was the exact moment fans took the last modicum of respect they had for Mike Dean and set it ablaze in a Twitter rage. Just look at that celebration: it’s like he’s limbering up for the triple jump.
That’s not the only pro-Spurs evidence conspiracists can point to either…
2. Celebrating a Tottenham goal vs Aston Villa
This is vintage Dean. Not only does he get to make his exaggerated advantage signal (more on that anon), he also manages to steal the show by overtaking the players’ celebrations. Classic.
3. Sniffing his assistant before the Manchester derby
Put yourself in Dean’s shoes: it’s one of the biggest games in club football and the world’s cameras are panning across some of the best players in the sport. How can you get everyone’s attention? By strangely checking out your linesman’s body odour, of course.
4. Threatening to end Pedro Obiang’s career
A word of warning to those players who dare question one of his decisions – he can end your career at the snap of a finger should he so wish. Take this incident for example, when he warned West Ham’s Pedro Obiang: “Look at me again and you won’t be playing again.”
Ooh, you’re hard.
5. The Gabriel vs Costa episode
After missing Diego Costa’s attempt to drag Laurent Koscielny into a UFC match and his subsequent winding up of Gabriel, Dean saw fit to send off the Arsenal centre-back for reacting.
That decision led to Arsenal fans launching a petition to stop him ever officiating a Gunners game again, which gained 100,000 signatures inside a week. Suffice to say the FA rescinded Gabriel’s red card and instead handed Costa a retrospective three-match suspension.
6. The no-look booking in the Merseyside derby
Some players enjoy showboating with a no-look pass, but why should referees miss out on all the fun? A trademark of any celebrity ref, Mike single-handedly brought no-look bookings to the masses.
7. Getting annoyed at Swansea not taking advantage
If there’s one argument to say he isn’t biased, it’s that Dean somehow manages to show favouritism to everyone. Take this clip for example, where he demonstrates his love of playing advantage – and his sheer frustration when they fail to make the most of it.
8. Showing a red card to Sofiane Feghouli
After Man Utd’s Phil Jones launched himself into a dangerous challenge on Sofiane Feghouli, he writhed around in pain looking like the innocent party. Dean bought it and sent off the West Ham man, whose side went on to lose a close contest 2-0. Suffice to say Feghouli’s red was also rescinded.
There’s something of a pattern here, isn’t there?
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9. Dummying a pass
If ever a game is flowing well enough for Dean to remain an anonymous figure, there’s only one solution: getting involved with play and showing off his dummy ability.
10. Showing off his chicken walk
You can just imagine his thought process before stepping onto the turf, can’t you?
“Right Mike, come on, it’s 2:55pm, it’s showtime. Repeat after me: it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all about me…”
However you look at it, Mike Dean referees football matches how he wants, and we’re certain Sunday will be no different.