Like most young boys, Clattenburg was a keen footballer when attending Cramlington High School, but he was sent on a referees' course as part of the Duke of Edinburgh awards at the age of 16 and his life was changed forever.
"I played centre-forward and then right-back and was good enough to play for my school and South Northumberland," he said.
"I may have made a player at Northern League level.
"But I loved refereeing. I did both for a while until I was 18 or 19 and stopped playing completely. It was obvious I could do better at refereeing.
"I was on the line in the Northern League at 18 and I seemed to only spend a season at one level before moving on.
"I had taken charge of just six Conference games and run the line at 20 matches in the Nationwide League when I was promoted to the Football League list."