The tiny territory of Gibraltar with its total land size of 6.8 km2 (2.6 Square Miles) and population of less than 30,000 (5% the size of Boston) played its first ever International soccer game on November 19th 2013 managing an incredible goal-less draw against the extremely upstanding Slovakia. The Slovak team comprises fully of paid professional players from across Europe compared to Gibraltar’s predominantly amateur players who work as policemen, firefighters and civil servants truly making this, their first encounter, a real David vs Goliath affair. Team manager Allen Bula convinced former Manchester United defender, Danny Higginbotham (now playing non-leage soccer and also his nephew) to join the team for his international debut aged 34 by asking him on Twitter! Goalkeeper Jordan Perez was outstanding on the day as were all players who were praised as heros before the game even began.
Despite being geographically connected to the coast of Spain, Gibraltar is a British territory and plays it’s ‘home’ games over 4 hours away in the Estadio Algarve Stadium in Portugal due to it’s current stadium not meeting UEFA credentials. Around 400 made the trip from ‘the Rock’ to the stadium which at 30,002 could seat the entire nation of Gibraltar.
This result has sent shockwaves across Europe and propelled hysteria across the miniature nation as they go in to the next game. So what is the next step for Gibraltar? They’ll be drawn out of a hat with all the top European nations on 23rd February 2014 looking to qualify for the 2016 European Cup Finals in France. Betting odds were placed at over 100/1 on even a draw against Slovakia but bookies now will now be watching with the rest of the world to see what this ragtag army can do next.
Gibraltar facts soccer team facts:
Biggest ever win 19-0 against Sark of the channel Islands (Unofficial game)
Heaviest defeat 5-0 to Greenland (Unofficial game)
Currently hosts only 3 professional players all playing in the lower leagues of England
Home stadium the Victoria holds 5,000
Officially the smallest international soccer nation beating San Marino who have a 32,000 population