Monday, 11 February 2013

International players wanted?

As Gibraltar limbers up for a potential full international debut this spring, the Rock's football association is on the look-out for players.

Gibraltar - seen above warming up at the 2011 Island games - was made a temporary UEFA member last October and the last month the Rock’s futsal side posted their maiden victory in qualifiers for the UEFA 2014 Futsal Championships with a 7-5 win over San Marino.

Gibraltar exited that tournament and, even if the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) are admitted to UEFA, are unlikely to play competitive internationals before the qualifiers for Euro 2016, which is in France, but Allen Bula, is getting prepared. He says: “I am trying to find players in UK that have a connection with Gibraltar, either born here or parents born here or strong family ties.”

Gibraltar has a population of just 29,000, which would give the colony the smallest pool of potential members of any UEFA member.

Tony Macedo made more than 300 appearances in goal for Fulham in the late 1950s and early 1960s and also appeared for the England Under-23 team. Striker Tim Buzaglo also played semi-professionally for Woking in the 1990s but more recently few Gibraltarians have played professionally.

Some of the current team have played in the lower Spanish leagues but only on a part-time basis as the wages outside La Liga are so poor.

Most of the Gibraltar side have public sector jobs on the Rock. Players like captain Joseph Chipolina (below in red) are not willing to give up the safety of these positions for the uncertainty of the paltry wages offered by smaller Spanish clubs or the chance of relocating to England.

Striker and customs officer Lee Casciaro has been approached by so many Football League clubs that he cannot bear speaking about the subject any more.

The only member of the Gibraltar side playing professionally overseas is Liam Walker, who is playing in League One for struggling Portsmouth, but Bula’s nephew is Sheffield United defender Danny Higgingbotham.

Bula will be hoping to find more players of their quality to supplement the likes of local talents Casciaro and Roy Chipolina (no relation to Joseph) as Gibraltar's manager looks to produce a competitive side to take on Europe’s best.

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