Roy Chipolina: “I thought I loved football but Julio takes the love of the game to a whole new level”

Ahead of Lincoln’s Europa League Second Qualifying Round match vs The New Saints, we caught up with Roy Chipolina to get his thoughts on the game, as well as a number of other topics including the appointment of Julio Ribas as national manager, and the increased Home Grown Player (HGP) rules.

Photo (C) William Gracia

Lincoln prepare tonight for their first leg away in Oswestry, so we asked what the Lincoln and Gibraltar captain thought of his team’s upcoming match: ” We know TNS are a strong team and have dominated welsh football for many years. They are a very experienced team in European competition and will be a very tough opponent as Shkendija found in the previous round scraping through even though they won the first leg 5-0. That said we have had our own experiences and we see this as a good opportunity of going a step further and making history in becoming the 1st Gibraltarian club to reach the 3rd round of a European competition. To achieve this we will need to be at our very best both as a team and individually.”

Chipolina worked under Julio Ribas at club level until April this year, before the Uruguayan left and eventually became national manager – what does the defender think of the appointment?: “Julio brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game and as he did at Lincoln will work day and night to transmit all he can to the team. I thought I loved football but Julio takes the love of the game to a whole new level. I have never met someone so passionate about football. He has very high expectations in terms of what he expects from his players and will look to build a committed disciplined and very tactical team. He has certain values and a certain philosophy which if he is able to instill into the team we will see progress.”

One of the new changes since RIbas took over is the regular training sessions he is running with the national team, twice a week from when he first took over – this is something that Chipolina sees as a positive: “I think it’s great that all clubs are supporting the idea of getting regular sessions in with the national team. It will definitely allow for the manager to instill his ideas and for players to understand what is expected of them both individually and collectively. Yes it’s not something you see from other nations but I do believe it can only assist us and allow for better preparation. Unfortunately for Gibraltar the jump from our local league to the international stage is huge and I feel that the national squad coming together regularly will benefit us.”

With the increase in the HGP rule from one local to three being on the pitch at all times being one of the hot topics in local football, we asked one of Gibraltar’s long-time stalwarts at club and international level for his thoughts on this: “I think the HG player rule will only benefit local football if the opportunity is seen in the correct manner. This should be seen as an opportunity to improve as a player and not one for financial benefit. The latter should come with how you perform and the important part you play in your team and not because you are local and that a certain club needs to meet a certain rule. Although the rule states that three locals should be on the pitch at any time I think that every player should work towards being in the line up because they warrant it. In other words we should not take this rule for granted and rest on our laurels but use the opportunity to show that we have got what it takes to warrant starting places and hope that we perform so well that clubs will be fielding more than the necessary rule.”