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Part Three: Daniel Duarte

Part Three of our three-part series with ex-Lincoln Red Imps and Gibraltar national team captain Daniel Duarte sees us talk about how it felt representing his country, winning Gold in 2007, and more.


1) How did it feel representing your country for the first time?

I remember the first time I represented Gibraltar, we were playing away in Malaga and I came on as a sub for Colin Ramirez. Those few seconds before getting onto the pitch felt like an eternity; I was so anxious and just wanted to get on the pitch and play. But I don’t remember much else if I’m honest. I was very young at the time and was very excited and extremely happy to be playing for the national team.

Playing for the national side is every kid’s dream and growing up I’d heard stories of different players explaining how honoured and privileged they felt whilst playing for Gibraltar. As my career progressed and I played more games with the senior side, I started feeling something different: the more I played for the national side, the more special it became. Representing my country at different levels always felt special, no matter if it was a friendly or an official international game – wearing that shirt always brought up your emotion.

2) At what age did you make your senior national team debut and how did it feel?

At the time, a number of the U21 national team players played against the senior side every Thursday and three or four players from the U21s, including myself, were selected to travel with the senior team to Malaga.

I can still remember the moment when I told my mum and grandparents that I had been selected to play for Gibraltar, I was very excited and happy. But I was also very young – only 16 – and the match was in Malaga, so I had to check that I was allowed to travel and play away.

3) Coming up through the national team as a youngster, how beneficial was it for you to have been surrounded by those senior players at the time?

Prior to joining the national team, I was already playing for Lincoln’s senior team, which exposed me to other senior players. I believe that it is always beneficial to play with older and better players than yourself when you are young. Playing for the U21s and training with the senior side helped me tremendously: I was able to play with the best players in Gibraltar, players that had a lot of talent and experience, such as Colin Ramirez, Peter Moreno, Jerry Aguilera, Adrian Olivero and Ivan de Haro.

These guys were not only excellent footballers, but they also gave me a lot of advice and helped me to stay mentally focused on football and my career. Coming up through the national team, I was fortunate to have played for two of the best managers in Gibraltar at the time, Adolfo Ramirez and Charlie Cumbo.

4) You were part of that 2007 team which won Gold, how did it feel being part of that team?

It was very hard for Gibraltar losing the final back in 1995, but winning gold in 2007 was probably one of Gibraltar’s most outstanding performances.

The squad for 2007 final had played together in previous Island Games and I can honestly say that we were in the best shape of our lives: we were extremely fit and very well prepared for Rhodes. Albert Buhagiar (Bubi), who was the coach at the time, really improved the physical and mental strength of the team. We were a team on a mission; we wanted to bring home the gold medal, the gold medal that we gave away in Gibraltar in 1995. We wanted to win for Gibraltar, but also for the players that lost in 1995 and were playing in 2007 final, we couldn’t let them lose another gold medal.

The team was extremely close, we were good friends that worked hard and played for each other. We had a very well-balanced technical team and a very determined coach, Bubi. It was truly an honour to play for that squad and being the team captain – winning the gold medal was probably one of the proudest moment in my football career.

5) Who was the toughest opponent you came across at the international level?

UEFA membership came a little late for me; it was at the very end of my career when I had the opportunity of facing top nations for the European qualifiers. During the qualifying rounds, I had the privilege of playing against Scotland in Hampden Park and I would say that the entire team were outstanding and the best players that I had ever faced. The Scottish fans were also unbelievable: 50,000 people singing the Scottish national anthem was an incredible experience.

Despite Scotland being such a tough opponent, the Gibraltar team played very well – we all remember what happened after that excellent through-ball by Aaron Payas to Lee Casciaro. Football can’t get any better than that, the first goal for Gibraltar at the European qualifiers was very emotional.

6) Pre-UEFA, what was the toughest team you came across at the international level?

Pre-UEFA, I played against top sides like Charlton, Birmingham, Portsmouth and many others, but I would say that my toughest opponent was always La Balona. Not only for the quality of play but also for the incredible rivalry we’ve always had. Those games were extremely special and tough.

7) Who is the best manager you worked with at the international level and why?

I’ve been very fortunate with managers in my career, not only at Lincoln but also at the national level. I started off playing for Adolfo Ramirez, then for Charlie Cumbo. I also played under Bubi, Allen Bula, Dave Wilson and Jeff Wood. It’s extremely difficult to say who was the best manager, they were very different and different doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.

Each manager had different philosophies of football and their own ways of preparing the team. Bubi was the manager I played for the most; I played over 70 games under him and his leadership undoubtedly influenced and shaped me as a player. Adolfo gave me my debut for the national side and he directed me on the right path for my career. Charlie was my manager at Lincoln and at international level and he also helped form me as a player. It was with Dave that I played in Hampden Park and experienced UEFA international football. Jeff Wood was part of the technical team that won the gold medal in the Island Games, and it was under him that I retired (against Scotland in Faro).

All of these men have been very influential in my football career and wouldn’t like to name one in particular manager as my favourite. I have learnt a great deal from all of them and have many treasured memories from my time working under them.

8) How did it feel whilst being captain to pass on advice to the younger players who were in the same position as you when you first started?

It was very satisfying to be able to pass on my experience, including a lot of the advice that senior players gave to me when I first started playing football. My aim was to always try to give young players confidence and support, letting them know that I had been through what they were experiencing and understood the pressures and difficulties they faced. I was there to help them on and off the pitch, just like past captains did for me.

9) Looking back at your career – are you happy with everything you did?

I am extremely happy with my career; I started playing football when I was 12 years old, four years later I was playing in the first division for Lincoln, and had my debut for the national side at 16 years old. At 20 years old, I won my first league title and then managed to break every single record in Gibraltar football history with Lincoln. At one time, I was one of the youngest (at 16) and the oldest (at 35) player to play for the national side. I also had the honour of being captain for Lincoln as well as the national side for many years.

Although UEFA membership came late for me, I had the privilege of playing in the first UEFA official friendly against Slovakia and playing in Gibraltar’s match against Scotland where we scored our first goal in a European qualifier. I was also the Futsal team captain and represented Gibraltar in the first UEFA European qualifiers in Nice, getting our first win. Honestly, I cannot complain about anything in my career. Apart from all of my achievements, I’ve also made lots of friends, many of whom I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for football. I’ve enjoyed every second of my career and wouldn’t change anything.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and helped me along the way – especially all of my teammates, without them I wouldn’t have achieved anything and wouldn’t be the person I am today. But, most importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this without the support of my wife, she has been extremely supportive and motivated me in difficult times and I thank her for everything.

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Coleing attracting interest from outside of Gibraltar

Europa and Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayle Coleing is believed to be attracting interest from teams in Northern Ireland, Spain’s Segunda B Division and potentially elsewhere outside of Gibraltar.

Photo © C Correa Photography

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Lincoln sign Gibraltar international Scott Wiseman

Lincoln Red Imps have this afternoon announced the signing of Salford City and Gibraltar defender Scott Wiseman on a two-year deal.

Photo (C) Rough and Ready

Wiseman, who has played his whole career in England, joins Lincoln on a two-year deal after leaving Salford on a free transfer after the termination of the English League Two season.

The 34-year-old, who can play at right-back or centre-back, has 10 caps for Gibraltar, but hasn’t featured since a 6-0 defeat to Belgium back in 2016 – however, Wiseman, talking to the official Lincoln website, said: “Earlier this year I would have been playing for the national side again”, presumably referring to the cancelled March international friendlies against Malta and Liechtenstein. His return would give another option, and one with vast experience, to Julio Ribas side ahead of the upcoming Nations League.

Wiseman, on Lincoln’s official site, continued by saying: “I’m absolutely delighted to finally get things signed. After having countless conversations with the club about coming over, it was an easy decision for myself and my family to make.” With nearly 500 appearances in English football, from the National League to the Championship, the defender will add a lot of experience to the Lincoln team for the upcoming season.

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Chipolina: “Not the recovery we expected”

We spoke to Joseph Chipolina about his recovery from injury, a review of Lincoln’s season and more.

Just before the GNL took a break for Christmas, Joseph Chipolina suffered an injury in Lincoln’s 2-0 win over Manchester 62. We asked the 32-year old how his recovery has gone, “Not the recovery we expected as we have had a little setback. I will need some manipulation and little surgery clean up as my knee won’t bend as it should. But all in all still doing what I can and building the quads up.”

With Covid bringing a halt to football in Gibraltar, we asked Joseph what he is doing during these tough times – “I am training 2 times a day one at lunchtime and one just before dinner time roughly at 19:45. I can’t really do cardio so what I am doing are workouts which I can do with my knee as it is.”

Before Covid brought a halt to the GNL – Lincoln were third, five points behind St Joseph’s in second, ten points behind rivals Europa in first and in the Gibtelecom Cup semi-final. Joseph reviewed his side’s season, “It hasn’t been the best of seasons but these things happen in football. Too many changes within the club etc but always for the best of the club, but all in all it is what it is and another year where we learn as a club and move on for our next challenge together as one.”

Nearly six months on from Gibraltar’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, which ended in a defeat to Switzerland at the Victoria Stadium, Joseph reviewed Gibraltar’s campaign – “I think we did quite well on some games; maybe on others we could have done better but that all comes down to us players maintaining our A-game all throughout the games. Lack of concentration is what is letting us down but we have improved vastly since the arrival of Julio Ribas who is an amazing coach and person.”

Lastly, we asked Joseph about any goals he has set for himself – “At this moment in time my goals are to try and play football again. My injury was a very harsh one, I had my ACL torn into bits, had my ICL torn 60%, had Both Interior and Exterior Meniscus torn, and my patellar dislocated, aggravating the patellar tendon. So my goal is to get as fit as I can and try to make it back on the field and keep doing what I most enjoy and love.”

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Doody: “We will be back and we will be ready”

FG caught up with Lions Womens’ and Gibraltar’s Keshia Doody to talk about the season so far, the teams reaction to the postponement of the Womens Futsal Euro qualifiers, which were due to be held in Gib, and more.

Photo © Neil Wilson (Black & Burst Photography)

We firstly asked for her thoughts on how Lions Womens’ season had gone so far “Well before lockdown, our season had already ended with Lincoln being crowned champions. I personally don’t think we had a bad season overall but, it also wasn’t our best one. We’ve had a few changes to the squad bringing up younger players which I know they will be great assets to the team for the upcoming seasons. Us lionesses always give 100% in what we do, so I have faith we’ll be back stronger next season.

I would like to take the chance to congratulate Lincoln ladies for their title once again.”

Gibraltar were set to face Belgium and Kazakhstan in the Women’s Futsal Euro Qualifiers, in a week’s time, with Doody set to be part of that squad – were the team disappointed when the lockdown inevitably led to the qualifiers being postponed? “I think more than disappointed, we’re gutted about it. When we heard Gibraltar had been put down for the draw we were over the moon, at first it didn’t seem real as we had been waiting for this opportunity for years. The squad had already been training very hard for the past months due to having the friendly international matches over in Northern Ireland early in January which had been planned as a lead up to the upcoming Euros. So when the pandemic occurred, we couldn’t believe how close but far away our dream was.

Luckily we are all managing to stay positive about this and just waiting patiently for the time to come. Like I’ve already said to them before, we’ve waited countless of years for this opportunity, so I guess we can wait a further few months. Our health and the rest of the community’s health & safety comes first.”

With lockdown approaching two months now, we asked how the Lions Womens’ captain has approached keeping up fitness during this time: “Personally I have found it hard as I am very much a team player and don’t motivate myself to train alone. Luckily my partner is into cycling so I have been doing Gib rides as much as possible accompanied by him and motivated by him when I’ve not been at work. We have also been provided with a workout program by the GFA to do at home which I am also doing At least 3 times a week. That way I/we are as ready as possible for when we begin to get ready for the Euros once again.”

Finally, we asked Doody for her goals for the rest of 2020: “If football returns which I hope it does, my overall goal is to maintain my fitness, train hard with the girls/ squad & get back to routine with all of them. Locally my goal would have to be in winning the Rock Cup & Futsal league (*note – this interview took place before the announcement of the domestic season being terminated) and last but not least internationally my goal would be to make sure we are as ready as we can be to perform at our best at International Level when the opportunity arises again. Hopefully we will still be hosts in our homeland and make ourselves and Gibraltar proud. We will be back and we will be ready.”

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Gibraltar take on San Marino in Nations League opener

Gibraltar will open their upcoming UEFA Nations League campaign against San Marino on Saturday 5th September.

Photo © William Gracia

Yesterday’s draw in Amsterdam saw Gibraltar drawn in the group of three, with Liechtenstein completing Group 2. The group of three means that Gibraltar will have to fill up two empty fixture slots with friendly matches if they wish – although with all 54 other UEFA members having fixtures guaranteed in all six slots, should Gib play they would have to face a member from outside of Europe.

Gibraltar’s free spots are on Matchday 2 and Matchday 4, with a match away to Liechtenstein sandwiched in between on October 8th. November sees the conclusion of the group, where Gibraltar firstly play away at San Marino, before taking on Liechtenstein in the group finale on November 16th.

With Group 1 containing Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra & Malta, the general consensus is that in Group 2, Gibraltar have a genuine chance of promotion to League C – although only the top team are promoted from each group. At the very least, Gibraltar should be targeting to get results in their games, with especially the matches against San Marino, who have failed to win a fixture in 16 years, potential chances for taking three points.

Gibraltar’s Fixtures:

Saturday 5th September 2020: Gibraltar v San Marino – 15:00 CET

Thursday 8th October 2020: Liechtenstein v Gibraltar 20:45 – CET

Friday 13th November 2020: San Marino v Gibraltar 20:45 – CET

Monday 16th November 2020: Gibraltar v Liechtenstein 20:45 – CET

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Nations League: Gibraltar’s potential opponents profiled

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Nations League draw, we look at the six teams who join Gibraltar in League D, and could potentially be Gib’s opponents this autumn.

Photo (C) William Gracia

With the change in structure of the Nations League, there are now only seven teams in League D, which will be split into a group of four teams and a group of three. Gibraltar are seeded in the first pot due to their Nations League performances in 2018, which means they can only draw one of the other first pot nations (Faroe Islands, Latvia & Liechtenstein), and either one or two of the second pot nations (Andorra, Malta & San Marino). So, how have Gibraltar’s potential opponents done in the past couple of years?

Faroe Islands:

World Ranking – 110th

2018/19 Nations League – The Faroe Islands, like Gib, finished third in their Nations League group, picking up five points from six games. Their sole win was a 3-1 home victory against Malta, while they also drew with the same opponents away, while picking up a point at home to Kosovo who won the group.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – The Faroe Islands finished fifth of six teams in the Euro Qualifiers, and once again their sole victory came against Malta – they lost their other nine qualifiers though including a 2-1 defeat away at Malta.

History vs Gibraltar – Gibraltar have played the Faroes twice before, once before joining UEFA, where Gib won 3-0, and once in their first game at the Victoria Stadium after joining UEFA, where the Faroes won 4-1. The two teams have yet to play each other since.

Latvia:

World Ranking – 137th

2018/19 Nations League – Latvia finished third in Group 1 of League D, but despite picking up four points, failed to actually win a game, drawing four and losing two of their six matches. Their two defeats came to Kazakhstan and Georgia, while they also drew twice with Andorra, potential opponents for Gib. Notably, Latvia only scored twice in their six games.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Latvia finished bottom of Group G, picking up three points in a win against already-qualified Austria on the final matchday. Once again, goalscoring seemed to be an issue for Latvia, only notching three times in 10 matches.

History vs Gibraltar – Like the Faroes, Latvia have faced Gib twice in friendlies – a 5-0 victory in 2016 for Latvia, but a memorable 1-0 win for Gib under the interim management of Desi Curry, where Liam Walker’s late free kick saw Gib win their first game at the Victoria since becoming UEFA & FIFA members.

Liechtenstein:

World Ranking – 180th

2018/19 Nations League – We need no reminder that Liechtenstein were in the same Nations League group as Gibraltar. They finished bottom, two points below Gib, with their sole victory coming against Julio Ribas’ side in Vaduz, while they also drew 2-2 at home to Armenia on the final matchday, a result which secured Gibraltar’s third place spot.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Liechtenstein finished bottom of Group J, picking up two points in draws away to Greece and again at home to Armenia. Results were understandably harder to come by in a tough group that consisted of Italy and Finland, who qualified for Euro 2020, and Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

History vs Gibraltar – Liechtenstein have faced Gib three times. The only non-competitive fixture was a 0-0 friendly draw at the Victoria Stadium, while in the Nations League, after beating Gib in Vaduz, Julio Ribas’ side notched up a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture thanks to goals from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina. The two sides also meet later this month in Malta for a friendly.

Andorra:

World Ranking – 135th

2018/19 Nations League – Andorra finished bottom of Group 1, after also drawing four and losing two games like Latvia had. The lack of goals may have concerned them (two in six games), but only conceding nine in those matches too will have given them more confidence in their defensive abilities this time out.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Andorra had a decent qualifying campaign by their standard, finishing above Moldova in Group H, taking four points from their 10 games. A home win against Moldova, and an away draw against Albania ensured they finished the campaign not bottom of their group, which will have given them some confidence.

History vs Gibraltar – The two nations have never met at senior international level. At club level, both Lincoln and Europa have knocked Andorran sides out of European qualifiers though.

Malta:

World Ranking – 184th

2018/19 Nations League – Malta finished bottom of Group 3, drawing three and losing three of their six matches in their group. Two draws vs Azerbaijan and one at home to the Faroes on the final matchday was not enough for them to finish third, which in turn sees them in the bottom seeding this time out.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Malta again joined the Faroe Islands in their qualifying group, and finished bottom again after picking up three points in a solitary victory vs the Faroes. Their only other goal in qualifying came in a loss to Norway, and the Maltese haven’t had the best of times recently.

History vs Gibraltar – The two nations have met once in Faro, and it was an historic one for Gib as Kyle Casciaro’s goal saw Gib win their first game since joining UEFA. The two sides will also meet this month in a friendly match.

San Marino:

World Ranking – 209th

2018/19 Nations League – San Marino had a torrid time of it in League D – they lost all six games and failed to score a single goal; no other team did that in League D. In a group that consisted of Belarus, Luxembourg and Moldova, San Marino were not able to take any scalps – they have failed to win a competitive international since 2004, or avoid defeat since 2014.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Unsurprisingly, San Marino finished bottom of Group I, but a small upside for them was they at least managed to score once in a 3-1 home defeat to Kazakhstan. They did have a very tough group, containing three teams familiar to Gibraltar as opponents (Belgium, Scotland and Cyprus), as well as Russia.

History vs Gibraltar – The two sides have never met at senior international level. At club level, Lincoln beat La Fiorita 2-0 back in 2018.

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Gibraltar in March double-header in Malta

Gibraltar will face Malta and Liechtenstein in an international friendly tournament hosted by the Maltese FA in March.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The friendlies will serve as good practice for the upcoming Nations League later in the year – both of Gib’s friendly opponents may also be in Gib’s group when the draw is completed on March 3rd in Amsterdam.

Gibraltar have history against both teams in their nearly seven-year spell in UEFA; Kyle Casciaro’s goal in Faro saw Gib, then managed by Allen Bula, beat Malta 1-0 in 2014 in what was their first win since joining UEFA, while as well as a 0-0 friendly draw in 2016, Julio Ribas’ side memorably came from behind to beat Liechtenstein 2-1 in October 2018, thanks to goals from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina.

The GFA have also confirmed that Gibraltar will also play two further friendlies in late May/early June, with both opponents and venues to be confirmed.

Fixtures:

Malta v Gibraltar – 26th March 2020 – 4pm – Ta’Qali National Stadium

Gibraltar v Liechtenstein – 29th March 2020 – Kick Off TBC – Ta’Qali National Stadium

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New design for National Stadium to be re-submitted for Environmental Screening

The Gibraltar FA have confirmed this afternoon that plans for a 4,700 seater new National Stadium will be re-submitted for Environmental Screening this month.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The new capacity comes after UEFA made a change to its regulations governing stadia, allowing small countries like Gibraltar to be exempt from the ruling that stadia used for full internationals had to hold a minimum of 8,000 spectators. The GFA had, back in 2018, submitted to the Development and Planning Commission, for the purposes of public consultation, a project to construct a new 8,000 seater National Stadium for Gibraltar, in line with what was then UEFA’s minimum capacity requirement.

As such, the GFA have, in consultation with their project management team and UEFA, reviewed the existing design and chosen to reduce the capacity from 8,000 to 4,700 – a figure which still represents around a 113% increase in capacity from the current Victoria Stadium, which officially holds 2,200 spectators.

The GFA will be applying to the Development & Planning Commission (DPC), by no later than March 14th, for planning permission to construct the new stadium. Once the application has been submitted and validated, the public can inspect copies of the application, plans and other documents submitted either in person at the office of the Secretary of the DPC, or online at egov.gi

Notices were put up on the stadium on Friday 14th February ahead of the beginning of the weekend’s football, which served to initiate the process of notifying the public.

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Crisp joins Cottrell at Brymbo FC

Gibraltar U21 international Liam Crisp has followed his fellow compatriot Max Cottrell in joining Welsh side Brymbo Football Club while they continue with the university studies in the UK.

During the January transfer window, Crisp and Cottrell put pen to paper at Brymbo FC who currently ply their trade in the Welsh National League – they currently sit sixth in its Premier Division, which is the 3rd tier of Welsh football.

Cottrell, who started off the season at Mons Calpe, was unveiled by Brymbo at the end of January and started their recent defeat in the Cup to Pennydarren BGC.

Crisp was announced on Thursday 12th February from Manchester 62 and the Welsh club confirmed this morning that he is available for their league game this weekend.

Both players will be hoping to gain valuable minutes under their belts with international duty only one month away with the Gibraltar U21’s taking on Norway and Cyprus.