It?s the Cup for Mark

FORMER Rockhampton football referee Mark Shield continues to prove a world-class act.

Shield is one of 23 referees worldwide selected for the 2006 World Cup starting in Germany on June 9.

"It's seven weeks before I go so that means lots of training and a nervous wait more than anything,'' Shield said.

Being involved in World Cups has been a lifetime dream.

"It's amazing to think you can get to the top through the regional system,'' Shield said.

"I remember watching World Cups religiously growing up and I'd try to mirror them (referees) at my game the next week.''

This is Brisbane-based Shield's second World Cup appearance after a call-up to Korea and Japan in 2002 where he officiated one game and was a fourth official in three other games.

"Experience will make a big difference this time, I know what to expect with the pressure of a World Cup,'' Shield said.

"Hopefully I won't be as nervous.''

Rockhampton-born Shield, 32, has made regular officiating visits back to the city since being based in Rockhampton during the early 1990s.

While the World Cup is played on an enormous stage Shield knows there is always pressure, no matter what level the game.

"The game doesn't change, whether it's a World Cup final or at a local park match ? there's always pressure,'' he said.

"I remember games there (Rockhampton) that were really tough matches and I remember causing some almighty ruckuses in Rocky.''

Shield, the A-League's referee of the season, will have no involvement with the Socceroos games ? he will be on the opposite side of the draw.

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