Top retired referee, MARK Clattenburg claimed John Obi Mikel once SWUNG for him and screamed: “I want to break your legs.”
The treatment of referees by players is under the microscope once again following Aleksandr Mitrovic’s reaction to Chris Kavanagh.
The Fulham forward shoved the referee and shouted in his face in a furious tirade during the FA Cup defeat at Manchester United on Sunday.
Now the Serbian could be slapped with a ten-match ban by the FA, ruling him out of action until the last day of the season.
And former Premier League official Clattenburg recalled his own experience of being targeted by a player.
Writing in his Daily Mail column, Clattenburg, 48, said: “Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi once swung at me in the referee’s room at Stamford Bridge.
“He screamed he wanted to break my legs and was being held back by Roberto Di Matteo and Eddie Newton.
“In the end, Mikel only received a three-match ban for that incident.
“I thought, ‘Are the FA taking the p***? He should be banned for the rest of the season, if not more.’
“Mitrovic wasn’t as aggressive as Mikel, but he got physical with Kavanagh. The FA may now use him to set an example to others.
“Referees need to be respected at the highest level because if they aren’t, that impacts what happens at the lowest level.”
The incident with Mikel took place in 2012 after the officials sent off two Chelsea players and missed an offside for Manchester United’s winning goal in a 3-2 victory.
In the aftermath of the match, Chelsea accused Clattenburg of racially abusing Mikel and Juan Mata.
The fabricated claims were dropped and Clattenburg was cleared after an investigation by the FA as Sir Alex Ferguson publicly defended the ref while opponents Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole both said they heard no racist language.
The former ref details the incident and the way he was treated by Chelsea in depth in his autobiography.
Clattenburg refereed some of the Premier League’s toughest players including Roy Keane and Craig Bellamy – and even threw a boot at Jose Mourinho.