In the latest interview with Gibraltar’s Euro 2016 qualifying stars, we caught up with Manchester 62 midfielder Brian Perez, to talk about both his contribution to qualification, and the circumstances that led to his departure from Lincoln to Manchester.
Perez, who has six caps for the full national team, was positive about how the team handled their maiden European campaign. “Considering we had no experience of having played at such a high international level, I feel we did the best we could which in my opinion was considerably good.”
Every game Gibraltar played was against seasoned professionals, as high up as World Champions Germany, and Perez felt that considering Gibraltar’s semi-professional status, they handled themselves more than adequately. “We couldn’t expect to match up against big countries with world class players when our players are semi professionals who work for a living and play football as a second vocation. I know it’s easy to see things differently from a spectators perspective however playing against these professionals is a much harder task than what one may imagine.”
On a personal level, Perez’s caps all came in the qualifiers, completing the full 90 in four of those encounters. When asked about how he felt his own performances were for the national team, Perez said: “Personally I feel I have given my utmost every time I have had the opportunity to play for the national team. I was unfortunate to have missed 3 of the matches due to injury but regardless of this, I still persisted and played to the best of my ability even after my recovery. I was fortunate to be amongst the first 11 and play the whole 90minutes in the first 4 matches where I feel I demonstrated my ability as a football player.”
Being pictured alongside stars such as Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze were also big moments for the midfielder: “Captured moments like these are ones which I will forever be proud of and I consider these to be one of, if not, the greatest highlight of my footballing career.”
A lot of talk recently has been about Gibraltarian footballers making the step out of local football, and representing themselves abroad in other leagues, especially professional systems such as those of the English and Spanish leagues. UEFA membership not coming until 2016 has limited those opportunities for the likes of Perez, who said: “I feel that there are many of us players within the national team who could have played professionally if, at a younger age, we would have been given the opportunities which are now arising. The younger talent in Gibraltar will benefit from these changes in local football and hopefully we will see many of these become professionals in the near future.”
Domestically, a recent move from Lincoln, where Perez had been for 18 years, to Manchester 62, was completed under perhaps unsatisfactory circumstances. Perez was honest about the circumstances surrounding this move, saying that: “It was a very hard decision to leave Lincoln after having played for the club for 18 years, but due to unnecessary changes within the club I started to realise it was time for me to move on. On another note I would like to thank Manchester for welcoming and believing in me, and allowing me to do what I love most which is playing football.”
When asked whether he felt Lincoln treated him right, Perez was frank in saying: “No, I don’t feel I was treated right and felt devalued after having given so much for the club and team.” Perez is more positive about the future though, saying: “It feels good to be back on the pitch where I belong playing for my current club Manchester 62. Playing football is what I most enjoy and I feel that the more I play, the more confidence I gain, and that will allow me to further improve as a player.”