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Serra: “I knew that it was a tough challenge but I was definitely prepared”

At just 17 years old, Niall Serra has turned a few heads with some eye-catching performances – we spoke to the Glacis defender about life in the Premier Division, captaining Gibraltar U19’s and much more.  

Since coming onto the scene in late October, Niall Serra has made huge steps in his progression and certainly raised a few eyebrows along the way – we asked him how he has found life in the Premier Division, “After training with the premier squad, and being involved in matches and observing from the bench, I knew that it was a tough challenge but I was definitely prepared. After my debut, against Lions I felt a great amount of confidence and faith in myself to push even harder and earn my place. After 6 games now I’ve felt very comfortable and I’ve adapted quickly, the intensity is on another level compared to the intermediate league, however, I’ve found that I’ve asserted my position in the team.”

After losing Dani Guerrero to St Joseph’s – Glacis have struggled to find a good enough partner for Francisco Cano but over the last few games, Niall has shown great maturity and looks to be a real talent for the future. We asked him how he has found playing with the 27-year old, “I have developed great relationships and learned a lot from the players and coaching staff, they’ve surrounded me with nothing but positivity on the pitch. I’m constantly greeted with support on every action I take on and off the field. My footballing ability has undoubtedly increased due to all the experienced players’ remarks and I have only gratitude and appreciation towards them. Being partnered up with Fran Cano has given me the opportunity to witness and learn even further allowing me to play to the best of my ability.”

At 17 years old, Niall was appointed captain for Gibraltar’s recent U19 campaign – we asked him how it felt, “Being named captain of the Gibraltar U19s is such an incredible honour that I will cherish forever. Playing for my country is a feeling like no other, and captaining it is one that words cannot describe. I was given a huge responsibility and I was prepared to give my all for my team and my country and I’ll make sure I fight to keep my place in the next tournament to come. It was undeniably an experience like no other.”

Lastly, Niall gave us an insight into what he hopes to achieve in the future – “In terms of my footballing career, I aim to progress through the ranks of GFA and eventually break into the senior squad and represent my country at the highest level. I have also set a target of continuing to develop as a player and perhaps making my way to the highest rank of football in Gibraltar or perhaps elsewhere. The opportunity to show ones ability in the Gibraltar Premier Division is not very common for locals and the fact that I have been able to do so at such an early age, fighting for my spot has only triggered my desire to get to the top wherever that may be.”

Photo – Neil Wilson. 

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De Barr: “The last few days have been great for me”

After the recent international break, we caught up with Lincoln and Gibraltar midfielder Tjay De Barr, who featured for both the U21s and the senior national team in the last few days.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Having been in the squad for all three games, De Barr started last night against Russia in the U21 qualifiers, after coming off the bench just over 48 hours before for the national team against Latvia. We asked the 18-year old for his thoughts on the 5-0 defeat against the Russians: “First, I’d like to thank everyone who turned up to support us throughout both games, it’s always better playing with the crowd behind you. My thoughts against Russia, we had a game plan set up by our managers and we tried to stick to it, I think the first 40 minutes of the game was great keeping it 0-0 however we lost focus for whatever reason and they managed to get 2 goals before half time.

In these kind of games, you need to stay focused and concentrated through the whole 93 minutes and if you just drop your heads once they put a goal passed you and I think that’s what happened with us. However, I think the whole team did amazing and everyone gave their 100% so I’m happy with that and obviously it’s always a great feeling knowing everyone is giving their all.”

Originally, De Barr was only meant to be in the U21 squad, but injuries to the main team saw him given a call-up to Desi Curry’s side for the 1-0 win in the friendly international. De Barr, who won the free-kick that lead to Liam Walker’s 88th minute winner, had this to say about his experience in recent days: “The last few days have been great for me. There was three big games being played at the rock and I can admit I was nervous but I loved the feeling of it, I was excited for the first game versus Serbia but for whatever reason I didn’t manage to come on so I was looking towards the next game vs Russia, however then the first team called me up to be part of the squad for the Latvia game. Again same as under 21’s the first team had a plan to do and I think it came out great, being part of it all was amazing for me and making a senior debut here in Gibraltar in front of our home I think personally was the best way to do it, I hope to be able to represent Gibraltar in senior level again or in whichever age group it may be it’s always a privilege to represent your country.”

De Barr is gradually being introduced into his club side, Lincoln, who are dominating the league this season, with the attacking midfielder featuring at some point in 11 league games this season. With the league firmly in Lincoln’s grasp, we asked what his ambitions were at domestic level for the rest of the season: “Now it’s back to the league with Lincoln, I think we need to continue what we are doing, throughout the whole season we’ve been focused, and we need to remain that way. Obviously, I will be looking to win the league first and then the cup but everyone in Lincoln wants our three trophies back.”