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Lincoln Red Imps profile: Who are Celtic’s shock conquerors?

Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | July 7, 2016

Gibraltar football continues to battle way above its weight, as their highest profile club Lincoln Red Imps secured a shock second qualifying round Champions League first leg win over Scottish titans Celtic.

The win over their fellow British team will now surely bring even more focus onto the tiny oversees territory on the southern tip of Spain, as well as embarrassment for Brendan Rodgers’ new outfit. The second leg at Celtic Park takes place on Wednesday, July 20th.

After Lincoln’s 1-0 win, that follows upsetting Estonian champions Flora Tallinn in the previous round, Coral go through each of their starting line-up, the manager and notable subs that featured on Tuesday evening.

The Red Imps (7/1 to qualify) only narrowly lost 3-0 across both legs to FC Midtjylland, who knocked out Southampton and later troubled Manchester United in the 2015/16 Europa League last campaign, so they have what it takes to put up a fight in Scotland too.

Goalkeeper: Raul Navas

Age: 38
Nationality: Spanish
Caps: 0
Notable previous clubs: Cadiz, Tenerife, Cordoba, Xerez
Day job: Full-time footballer

Veteran keeper Navas is one of six Spaniards that have crossed the border into Gibraltar that currently play for Lincoln, and a number of fine saves kept the Red Imps well in the game and ensured a clean sheet.

Navas spent much of his career in the second-tier of Spanish football before signing for his current club in 2014, and is his team’s number one ahead of compatriot Manuel Soler and 15-year-old local lad Jaylan Hankins.

Right back: Jean-Carlos Garcia

Age: 24
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 13
Notable previous clubs: Linense (youth)
Day job: Admin clerk

At right back, Garcia has certainly made the position his own for club and nation with Scunthorpe United’s Scott Wiseman opting out of recent squads call-ups, and aged just 24 has a promising career ahead either in Gibraltar or perhaps in the English lower leagues.

He played a part going forward in the first leg against Flora, setting up a couple of chances, and looked steady against Celtic too.

Centre back: Roy Chipolina (c)

Age: 33
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 17 (1 goal)
Notable previous clubs: None
Day job: Customs officer

A customs officer by profession, commanding centre back Chipolina also leads both Lincoln and the Gibraltar national team as captain.

English-born Chipolina also holds the distinction of scoring Gibraltar’s first ever goal since being recognised by UEFA, after netting in a 4-1 friendly loss to the Faroe Islands in 2014.

Chipolina

Centre back: Bernardo Lopes

Age: 22
Nationality: Portuguese
Caps: 0
Notable previous clubs: Benfica (youth), Maritimo B, Louletano
Day job: Full-time footballer

Coming through an esteemed academy such as Benfica is an achievement on its own, but the young defender has chosen to play in Gibraltar after being released from the Eagles and then following a spell in Portugal’s second division.

Left back: Joseph Chipolina

Age: 28
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 18
Notable previous clubs: Linense, San Roque
Day job: Admin clerk

Left-sided player Chipolina, a distant relative of captain Roy, has the record number of caps for his nation in their short history, and is one of the more exciting and technically gifted stars in Gibraltar.

He played a huge part in the tie with Flora, netting in both legs – one of which was a cool penalty to open the scoring last time out. Chipolina has a younger brother in the squad, Kenneth, who made his European debut in the second leg and came on late against Celtic too.

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Centre midfield: Yeray Blasco

Age: 25
Nationality: Spanish
Caps: 0
Notable previous clubs: Elche
Day job: Full-time footballer

Spanish player Yeray is another in the Lincoln side with pedigree, having spent many years in the youth system of recent La Liga side Elche, while even turned out for their senior side in the Segunda Division in 2012.

Centre midfield: Ryan Casciaro

Age: 32
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 16
Notable previous clubs: None
Day job: Policeman

One of three Casciaro brothers in the line-up, Ryan is unfortunately the only one yet to score for Gibraltar but has 16 caps to proudly show to his name.

Like his elder brother Lee, goalscorer against Celtic (500/1 Champions League shouts with Coral), he is a policeman for his day job.

Centre midfield: Antonio Calderon

Age: 32
Nationality: Spanish
Caps: 0
Notable previous clubs: Malaga B, Jerez, Velez, Arka Gdynia
Day job: Full-time footballer

Calderon was replaced by Gibraltar’s Anthony Bardon for the prior match with Flora, though scored soon after coming on, and so was rewarded with a starting berth against Celtic and put in a fine display.

The former Malaga youth graduate almost gave Lincoln a quick-fire 2-0 lead straight after Casciaro opened the scoring, but sent his effort just over the bar to the relief of keeper Craig Gordon.

Attacking midfield: Liam Walker

Age: 28
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 17
Notable previous clubs: Portsmouth, Bnei Yehuda, Linense, San Roque
Day job: Full-time footballer

Walker is undoubtedly the star of both Lincoln and Gibraltar, having played for Portsmouth and Israeli top-fight team Bnei Yehuda a few years ago, while he even had trials with Manchester United, Everton and Aston Villa as a youngster.

Having tested even Manuel Neuer on the international stage, Walker was the heartbeat for the Red Imps against Celtic, setting up the only goal to add to his two assists in each leg over Flora too.

He was crucial for Lincoln in their 14th consecutive season as champions in the 2015/16 Gibraltar Premier Division, and he could certainly be an asset to most teams from the Championship down in England.

Attacking midfield: Kyle Casciaro

Age: 28
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 16 (1 goal)
Notable previous clubs: None
Day job: Shipping agent

Younger Casciaro brother Kyle scored the goal that secured Gibraltar their first and only ever win to date as a UEFA recognised nation, when striking against Malta in 2014.

Striker: Lee Casciaro

Age: 34
Nationality: Gibraltarian
Caps: 10 (1 goal)
Notable previous clubs: None
Day job: Policeman

Lee is the eldest of the Casciaro brothers and leads the line for Lincoln, while he also famously for Gibraltar scored his nation’s first ever competitive goal, which was an equaliser against Scotland in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

Casciaro (12/1 to score in 90 mins), nicknamed the ‘King of Gibraltar’, was once again the scourge of Scotland as he slotted home early into the second-half after rounding Efe Ambrose with relative ease.

Check out Coral’s exclusive interview with Lee

The manager: Julio Cesar Ribas

Age: 59
Nationality: Uruguayan
Caps: 15
Notable team managed: Penarol, Venezia, Bella Vista, Oman
Day job: Head coach

Lincoln did well to sign up former Uruguay international Ribas as head coach back in April, and clearly his experience has helped as they find themselves in a fairytale position following their first leg win over former European Cup champions Celtic.

Ribas has managed the likes of Uruguay top-flight team Penarol and the Oman national team, while just delivered the Gibraltar Premier Division and Rock Cup titles for the Red Imps.

Substitutes

Notable other names didn’t get to start last time out, though did come on as second-half substitutes.

Gibraltar’s own George Cabrera, 27, was top scorer for Lincoln and any other from his nation last season in the league with 24 goals, and the former Algeciras striker has five caps to his name.

Bardon, meanwhile, like Roy Chipolina, was born in England and qualifies for Gibraltar through his family.

Reports suggest that Bardon has signed for United Soccer League outfit Saint Louis FC, though has remained with Lincoln and had a short spell with the world’s oldest professional football club Sheffield FC until the new season begins in America.

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