Ahead of the UEFA Champions League Preliminary Round, we caught up with Lincoln’s Jean-Carlos Garcia to talk about the season that has just been, the upcoming qualifiers and the national team.
Photo (C) William Gracia
JC was part of the Lincoln side who won the title this season and earned their spot in the Champions League, so we asked him for an assessment of the title-winning season: “I though we had a great season, we were the most consistent team and to show the importance of starting the season as well as we did. We had a good point advantage over Europa that made the players feel less pressure going into games.”
On a personal level, the full-back was benched for a significant part of the season, losing his spot for club and country in the process – something that had an effect on him: “It’s a shame personally that i went through that after I felt I was playing well, scoring a few here and there but that’s football for you. Of course its hard enough losing your place in your club, and for it to happen in the national team was probably that hardest thing I have gone through in football. It really hit me mentally, but like I said before that’s football, train harder than before and wait for your opportunity and when it comes, make sure you don’t lose it again.”
Gibraltar have been chosen to host the first ever Preliminary Round mini-tournament, which starts on Tuesday, but will home advantage help Lincoln? “It’s fantastic that Uefa have chosen Gibraltar to host the first ever Champions League Preliminary round. People would say we have a slight advantage playing at home but when your playing champions of different leagues, you’re going to have very competitive games. 3 years ago we drew 0-0 against Santa Coloma at home and then beat them 1-2 away. It goes to show that it doesn’t matter if you play home or away, if you dont turn up on the day things may not go as planned.”
Speaking of playing at home, the UEFA Nations League sees competitive internationals on the Rock for the first time at senior level since UEFA membership, after a long spell playing in Faro. For the Gib defender, this is something he is looking forward to: “The players cant wait for it to start, especially playing in front of our fantastic fans, friends and family! Playing at home we definitely will be trying to play more attractive and attacking football compared to when we play away, but before we attack we need to defend, as like Gibraltar did so well against Latvia. Home games will be a big factor in how well we can do in the Nations League.”