After Gibraltar U17’s recent European qualifiers, we caught up with their captain, Shay Jones, to get his thoughts on the tournament and more.
Photo (C) Rough & Ready
Firstly, we asked Jones for his thoughts on the recent qualifiers: “I have been selected in previous occasions to represent Gibraltar at other levels, but the U17 Euro qualifier is always much bigger than any other tournament or friendly I have had the privilege to play in. We have been training hard for a few months especially in the physical and tactical aspect. I knew and was told it was not going to be easy playing against Ukraine, Bosnia and Iceland, but believe me it wasn’t easy. The fitness needed in the U17 Euro Qualifiers is very demanding maybe because of the frequency of games between each other and in this level if you give the ball away you will be punished more often. I take a lot of positives from this tournament itself, like the unity and togetherness of the squad and staff and most importantly, we gave it our all.”
The results did not go Gibraltar’s way in Bosnia, but we asked whether the lessons learned were ultimately more important than the scorelines: “The results were disappointing, when we play, we play to win. At this age group we are learning and developing as football players. We will look back on the tournament at what we can do better and what we did well. There is a lot to improve on but also a lot of positives to take. We can only get better as individuals and as a team.”
The midfielder had the privilege of being captain of the U17 side, something he is clearly proud of:L “Just being selected in the squad already been a huge achievement in itself, but being nominated as captain has been an honour. It has been a privilege to captain the national team. I want to thank my team mates and staff for their continuous support during the tournament. I will cherish this forever.”
Finally, after the senior national team won back-to-back games, we wanted to know how great a motivation it was for him, and keeping up his development, seeing the national side getting results on the big stage: “Wow! What a great week not only for the senior national side but Gibraltar as a whole with back to back wins. The UEFA Nations League will be a very exciting competition for the senior team and I have no doubt that they will bring us more success. The fact that many young players are being called up to the senior squad motivates me to carry on working hard and continue playing at the highest level possible, in order for one day, be selected for the senior side and continue representing Gibraltar.”