Gibraltar’s newest debutant Deren Ibrahim has made the headlines twice this season, albeit for very different reasons.
Photo Credit: C Correa Photography
Back in August, the goalkeeper scored for club side Dartford against Hungerford Town in the National League South, while for Gibraltar he was in goal when Christian Benteke scored the fastest goal in World Cup Qualifying history, beating a record held by San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri when he scored after 8.3 seconds vs England in 1993.
Not many people knew of Ibrahim on the Rock before Jeff Wood handed him a call up to the recent qualifiers, and despite tough competition for the goalkeeping position he was handed a full debut in Faro on Monday night. The keeper speaks proudly of the experience.
“There’s only one emotion from the game and that is great pride in representing Gibraltar. It is a country that is close to my heart with my Nan being from there and to represent them at a World Cup qualifier is the proudest moment of my footballing career to date.”
Belgium are one of the strongest teams in world football and with the likes of Benteke, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens just three of the elite attackers on the field at the Estadio Algarve, Ibrahim relished the chance to test himself against players of that calibre.
“Every player wants to test themself against the world best players and thankfully we all got to do that against Belgium. We could have gave up after conceding so early but we didn’t. We kept going and we played some great football. If it wasn’t for a world class save (from Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois) we could have scored against arguably one of the best sides in the world.”
Ibrahim’s club side, Dartford, sit just outside the playoff places in the National League South, the sixth tier of English football, and the keeper is positive about his club’s aims this season.
“Back at home with Dartford our aim is to get promoted for sure and get back to where the club belongs; that’s in the National League Premier.”
A big talking point locally is whether more of Gibraltar’s best should leave the figurative ‘bubble’ of the domestic game and try to make it abroad; like how Jamie Robba is attempting to at Torquay who are a division above Ibrahim’s Dartford. The keeper is positive about whether some of his new national team mates could cut it abroad.
“There are many talented players in the national team and it was an honour to train and play with them, it really was. They should all be proud of what they have achieved and I’m sure it won’t be long before we get our first points in the World Cup qualifying campaign. There are many young players in the set up and with the right guidance they could easily have a career in top European leagues.”
Football Gibraltar would like to thank Deren for taking the time to answer his questions and wish him the best of luck for both club and country.