Gibraltar To Play First International After Being Accepted By Uefa
Gibraltar feels like London away from London. Take a walk down the main street and you will be looking at street furniture that your eyes are used to seeing in London itself. Union Jacks, the iconic red telephone box, fish and chips and even a pub. There is one obvious difference between the capital of the UK and Gibraltar, distance. The small British Overseas Territory can be found 1,500 miles away from the capital.
It is closer to Spain than it is to England, but it is still under the control of Britain. Which Spain are not happy about. This hasn’t dented their ambition, as they are about to make their international debut against Slovakia. But ambition cannot hide the obvious challenges, one of which is the pool of players. At last count this was around 600 strong. Secondly, their home ground, Estadio Algarve, is 150 miles away in Portugal. Which can easily seat the entire population of British Overseas Territory. Their current home ground does not meet Uefa’s requirements.
Joyous celebrations and half a day of from work
Gibraltar seem unfazed, and preparations for the first international friendly and the future are the only thoughts energy is being wasted on. The manager of the side, Allen Bula, said that now that they have been accepted by Uefa the next goal is to qualify for Euro 2016.
News that Uefa had accepted their 54th and smallest team was welcomed by joyous celebrations on the streets of Gibraltar. Even better, every employee was given half a day so they could enjoy the parade that was organised to mark the occasion. This after all is the biggest sporting celebration the island has ever had a chance to enjoy. Usually the monkeys and the rock that dominates the skyline are the first thoughts that come to mind when people think of Gibraltar.
Bula who has been in charge of the side since 2010 has the task of narrowing his options further, and put together a competitive squad. One surprise turn up has been the inclusion of Danny Higginbotham, who came through United’s youth set-up. Bula recruited the now Chester player through Twitter, who is eligible to play because his grandmother has links to the British territory.
The rest of the squad will be made up of other professionals and semi-professionals. A large proportion will be amateurs. What is certain, their first game against Slovakia will be a big indication as to how successful the team from the small island will be. So keep your fingers crossed.