Gibraltar football story: They have a club that miraculously enters the Conference League

Zlatko Ilijevski
23 Oct 2021
10:53
1 comment
Gibraltar football story: They have a club that miraculously enters the Conference League

While we are enjoying the matches of European competitions all week it is a good time to read a different story about football in a charming overseas territory around which Britain and Spain have stretched for centuries. It has 29 and a fraction of a thousand inhabitants and they play football with their hearts.

This is a story about the love for football of this country and the club that made a miraculous success by placing in a Euro cup. a Gibraltar football club made its debut in the new Conference League (third-ranked competition in Europe).

Football in Gibraltar dates back to the 19th century when British soldiers played football in their spare time and committed themselves to organizing a football association in Gibraltar, as was already the case in their own country.

That was in 1885. By comparison, the football federations of Italy, Spain, Germany, and France were founded much later: at the beginning of the twentieth century.

But for membership in UEFA and FIFA, Gibraltar had to wait more than 125 years. They first applied for membership in 2006 but had to wait until 2013 (UEFA) and 2016 (FIFA).

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The first attempt to enter the European and world house of football was infamous because only three members of UEFA supported them (England, Scotland, and Wales), and Spain announced that in case of admission to Gibraltar, it would boycott international competitions.

The first years after joining UEFA and FIFA had problems with Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar's only football stadium. It did not meet the criteria, and until September 2019, until the reconstruction was completed, the national team played at the Algarve Stadium in the south of Portugal.

Lincoln Red Limps is a local football "hegemon". This club has won the championship title in 17 of the last 19 seasons (in the 2019/2020 season due to a pandemic it was not played and they were left without a trophy).

The League of Gibraltar plays in a circular system, the top 6 teams in the table play two matches against each other, and in the end, you get the champion. It is the same in the second part of the table where they are fighting for survival.

From the 2021/2022 season (starting in mid-October, 11 clubs will play. It is interesting and amazing that all clubs play in the same stadium - "Victoria".

Otherwise, constant work and playing football there is not a myth but a reality. Even in Lincoln, which made a sensation and qualified for the Conference League, Roma, Tottenham, Basel, Rennes, Slavia Prague, AZ Alkmaar, PAOK, Feyenoord, and others also play there), there are players and coaches whose first profession is not football but very different professions.

For example, goalkeeper Lolo Soler has a digital marketing business, Roy Chipolino is a customs officer, his brother Joseph is a civil servant in the public administration, Lee Casciaro is a police officer (Gibraltar's favorite profession).

Casciaro is a legend of Gibraltarian football. He is the best scorer in the national team (3 goals), and at the age of 39, he still plays for Lincoln (he has been with the club for 7 years). He scored a goal in the most important match in the history of the club.

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In 2016, believe it or not, Lincoln beat Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Amateur footballers working in the police and other things knocked down the trophy champion of Scotland.

Celtic celebrated 3-0 in the return match and went further, but this slap from Lincoln still reddens their cheeks and motivated the Gibraltarians to go to a higher goal.

In the qualifications for the Champions League in the first round, they played 2: 2 and then won 5: 0 against Fola from Luxembourg. They advanced to the high 2nd round of qualifications for the Champions League where they lost closely to the Romanian Cluj (1: 2 and 0: 2). The 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League followed, where they proudly fought against Slovan Bratislava with 1: 1 (1: 3 were defeated in the second match) and finally in the playoff for the League of Nations they managed to make a miracle in the duel (1: 1, 3: 1 two goals in extra time) to bring down Riga from Latvia for placement in the group stage.

From one they go to another goal. Their dream was to get the opportunity to play qualifiers at all. So, they dreamed of scoring at least one goal, then winning at least one point, and in the end, they qualified for the group stage of a major European competition.

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Lovely story. Shows how there is a will in many people to showcase their inspirations despite limitations of resources. Enjoyed reading. Articles like these are a breath of fresh air while we only talk about big guns all the time.