Who are Gibraltar’s national players that briefly rocked Scotland?
Pundits and fans have been torn between whether or not UEFA’s newest member Gibraltar, now managed by David Wilson on an interim contract, are worthy to play on the international stage.
However, following their spirited display in their Euro 2016 Group D qualifier against Scotland (11/10 to reach the France finals), in which they bagged their first competitive goal in a 6-1 loss, are they beginning to win over the critics?
Gordan Strachan was certainly impressed with the oversees British territory, that has a population of just 30k. “All the credit should go to Gibraltar today,” he said. “They made my life a misery for periods of that game and a long game for me as a coach.”
So, with many of Gibraltar’s footballers little-known or even unheard of to the majority of the public, Coral writers take a closer look at each player that started at Hampden Park, plus others to look out for.
Goalkeeper: Jamie Robba
Young stopper Robba replaced Jordan Perez against Republic of Ireland, after the latter conceded seven, keeping a clean sheet in his 30 minutes on the pitch. He hasn’t looked back since – except when picking the ball out of his net 13 times in the following three games – and is seemingly his nation’s new number one.
Robba, 23, who has recently managed his father’s sports bar back in Gibraltar, showed good handling against Scotland, but was at fault for the first penalty and could have perhaps done better to stop Steven Fletcher’s first goal.
Right back: Scott Wiseman
Hull-born Wiseman is the only Football League player in the side, as he currently plies his trade for League One high-flyers Preston North End (6/1 to finish first).
The defender is a former England Under-20 player, but qualifies for Gibraltar through his mother, who was born in the tiny territory just off Spain’s south coast. He was hand-picked by former head coach Allen Bula, along with the latter’s nephew and former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham, to represent the nation.
Centre back: Ryan Casciaro
One of three Casciaro brothers in the squad, Ryan is the only one not to have scored for GFA, as the team are nicknamed. The versatile defender is a policeman back on the rock and, along with two others, has featured in all 10 of Gibraltar’s international matches to date.
Centre back: David Artell
Artell is another Yorkshire-born (Rotherham) defender in this team, and is a former Football League player. He currently represents Welsh Premier League outfit Bala Town, and is also his old side Crewe Alexandra’s Academy’s Operations Manager.
He is known as one of the jokers of the Gibraltar team, but also perhaps the cleverest, as he has a degree in forensic biology.
Left back: Joseph Chipolina
Chipolina, who works as an admin clerk, began his career in Spain’s lower divisions with Linense and San Roque, before returning to his native land with Lincoln Red Imps in 2013.
The 27-year-old holds the record of being the first player to score for a Gibraltarian club in the Champions League, when his side faced HB Torshavn in the pre-tournament qualifiers.
Defensive midfield: Roy Chipolina
The second Chipolina in the side, but national captain and customs officer Roy, who has also featured in all 10 international matches, is only a distant relative to Joseph.
Enfield-born Chipolina is a usual defender, who also plays for Lincoln Red Imps, and scored his nation’s first ever goal since being accepted as a UEFA nation, against the Faroe Islands.
Right midfield: Lee Casciaro
While Chipolina got Gibraltar’s first goal, oldest Casciaro brother Lee, 33, netted the first in a competitive match, as he struck a quick equaliser against Scotland to temporarily stun the hosts. Like his brother Ryan, he serves in the Royal Gibraltar Police.
Centre midfield: Anthony Bardon
Bardon, 22, is another born in England, and played for non-league teams Tooting & Mitcham, Bromley and Cray Wanderers before moving to Gibraltar in order to get picked for the national side. He got an assist on his debut in a 1-1 draw with Estonia.
Centre midfield: Aaron Payas
Midfielder Payas is certainly not one to mess with, as he is a lawyer for his day job. The 29-year-old coolly laid on a well-weighted pass that resulted in Casciaro netting against Scotland.
Left midfield: Liam Walker
Ex-Portsmouth playmaker is perhaps the most talented footballer to have come out of Gibraltar, along with former Fulham keeper Tony Macedo, who was part of a Cottagers team that included the likes of Johnny Haynes, Bobby Robson, George Cohen and Rodney Marsh in the 1950s and 60s.
Walker, who had trials with Man Utd and Everton as a youngster, was born on the rock, and has plied his trade in Spain, England and Israel, but now turns out for home club and league champions Lincoln Red Imps. He is still just 26 and, being the heart and soul of the GFA team, will be looking to get snapped up by a more high-profile club in future.
Watch Walker nearly catch out superstar keeper Manuel Neuer in Gibraltar’s 4-0 away loss to Germany…
Striker: Adam Priestley
Farsley forward Priestley has spent his whole club career in Yorkshire, but was born in Gibraltar while his father served in the Royal Air Force. After spending time in Leeds United and York City’s academies, he became a prolific scorer for non-league teams Garforth Town and Farsley, the latter across two spells.
Priestley, 24, started the match against Scotland, and came close to scoring from an enticing Walker free-kick. He is also a teacher in Leeds.
Honourable mentions: Young 20-year-old capped duo Jack Sergeant (defender), Anthony Hernandez (attacker), who is a former Middlesbrough trialist, are both highly-rated in Gibraltar and are seen as the future.
English-born goalkeeper Will Britt, also 20, is currently in Southampton’s famed youth academy and has been called up to the senior squad but is yet to play. Gibraltar Under-17 star George Wink, meanwhile, has already had a trial with Man Utd.
Other players include Bristol Rovers winger Jake Gosling and youngest Casciaro brother Kyle, who have both scored for Gibraltar too.