Kevin (65), of Whissendine, officiated at matches across Leicestershire and Rutland for 32 years, before hanging up his whistle five seasons ago.
He fell ill in January and, after developing a blood clot on his left leg, surgeons at Glenfield Hospital were forced to amputate the limb above the knee.
Months of rehabilitation now lie ahead for Kevin, who is currently wheelchair-bound but hopes to be able to walk again, using an artificial leg in time.
His spirits were raised when football clubs and referees in the two counties donated money to help him, and officials with the Leicestershire and Rutland FA surprised him by presenting a cheque for £1,000.
Kevin told the Melton Times: “The worst thing is not being able to do the things I used to do on two legs.
"It is hard to be honest.
"It was such a surprise when my referee friends gave me that cheque – I never expected anything like that and I’m so grateful for their support.”
Kevin, who worked in the transport department at Holwell Works for 22 years, first realised something was wrong early in the new year when he had no energy and wasn’t eating.
He then had a problem with his leg, his foot went white and felt really cold.
"It was touch and go at one point,” said Kevin. “They couldn’t save the leg so it had to be done. We are now planning to have the house adapted to help me get around more easily and I’ve got a lot of physio to do.”
Kevin is also grateful for the support given to him by wife, Gloria, their four grown-up children and their eight grandchildren.
The fundraising was initiated by Melton junior club, Mowbray Rangers FC, who were keen to do what they could to help Kevin and his family by getting a collection going.
The club’s Andy Harrison, thanked all the clubs and referees who donated money, and added: “Kevin's emotions said it all. He was reduced to tears.”