LEWIS Smith will complete a remarkable refereeing story on Saturday as he leaps from the National League to the Prem in just 10 months.
Smith, 30, will become the youngest rookie ref in the top flight since Michael Oliver, who was 25 when he made his bow in 2010.
But the Wigan whistler has been catapulted through the ranks from the fifth tier to taking charge of Fulham’s clash with Aston Villa.
Smith had his first EFL appointments last season but was still taking charge of National League matches until April.
He was then promoted to the EFL full-time panel at the start of this season, making his Championship bow when he took charge of Plymouth’s game with Swansea in October.
Smith will become the fifth new refereeing face in the Prem this season after Sam Allison, Sam Barrott, Josh Smith and Rebecca Welch.
But his rapid rise is viewed as a positive result of both his performances and the ability of refs’ chief’s Howard Webb’s development group to identify the cream of the next generation of officials.
Smith’s career began in September 2016 when he led the U18 Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton.
He would remain taking charge the lower and youth divisions before making his way to the FA Cup first-round between Banbury and Canvey Island the 2020-21 season.
Then in the 2022-23 season Smith led one Championship clash against Watford and Stoke City plus five games in League One and seven in League Two.
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Now this term the Englishman has officiated four FA Cup and three EFL Cup games for Championship teams.
Saturday at Craven Cottage will mark his 198th match in the role as Smith looks to become a regular in top-flight English football.
Sam Barrott is the only other 30-year-old to take charge of a Premier League match this season.