Club Captain Andrew Lopez took time from being a father, his full time job and the busy training schedule to speak to us about how he is feeling about the forthcoming season. In many ways Andrew is the heart and soul of the Club who has worked tirelessly since the relaunch of the club. He is now also part of the Committee and has given, and continues to give all for the Cause.
We first asked Andrew how he felt the pre season had gone. He was quick to point out that pre season kicked off 3-4 days straight after the league had finished. At first it was a shock to the system but the squad was soon working extremely hard since as we need to have a higher level of fitness to compete. The introduction of the new professional manager has helped us improve a lot.
As one of the longest serving members of the squad we asked him about the quality of player that the club had been able to attract during the off season. His answer was emphatic!
“The team is starting to form a solid foundation. Many Gibraltarian players have joined the cause willingly wanting to help this great club achieve its goals. The importance of maintaining ‘only local players’ is a major boost for all those who have been side-lined ever since Gibraltar attained UEFA membership due to the influx of foreign players. We have signed great players with keen ambitions to perform, which is what we are always after. Youngsters as well as experienced players who have boosted the morale, which was already high with having won the 2nd Division and promotion to Premier last season.”
“We have great players in the squad, and I can’t really mention anyone in particular as there are so many quality and technically gifted locals, who can indeed perform to the highest level. All I can say is that the GFA manager should be looking thoroughly at this squad for locals who will be playing the full 90 minutes and I can guarantee they will give their all for Gibraltar. Call ups will are sure to come as the quality in the squad is unmistakeable.”
Andrew was as emphatic when asked whether he felt the team was ready for the challenges to come:
“We have set standards very high, if we wouldn’t, what would be the point? We always need to set high objectives or achievements in order to perform to the maximum. This will get the best out of our players, especially if they want to give all they have for this club. The main objective is challenging for the Europa League spots, we cannot get any higher than that, however, I do believe staying in the Premiership is more than essential this year.”
We also enquired at to his feelings in leading a squad comprised only of locals:
“As Club captain, it is a great honour being part of a squad comprised completely of Gibraltarians. As mentioned earlier, everyone at the club wants to succeed… sometimes the willingness and ‘amor propio’ as we say, can take your further than skill or professionalism on its own. We are a great bunch of players and the love I have for this club and its players is something I cannot really explain. I always go out of my way to help the club in good and bad moments and so do many other players who have a long history here.
I understand the difficulty of having ‘only locals’ in a strong Premier League filled with foreigners who have been playing in some more professional leagues throughout their career. I can truly say that if most of us were born in any other country which was UEFA approved, we would have been competing in professional leagues too, as the skill and technique of many Gibraltarians is something which you cannot deny. Its just unfortunate that we have only just joined UEFA a couple of years ago. This, however, will benefit many of our youngsters who now have something great to look forward to; the Champions League!
Andrew left us with this final thought: “We must keep focused and work together as a team, but i can really say we are more than a team, we are a family and will push ourselves in becoming a strong force.”
We thank Andrew for his time and I know he is more than eager for the ball to start rolling this weekend and cannot wait to lead his troops into battle. Andrew certainly epitomises our club motto of ‘Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam’. With Heart and Soul to Victory! Remember Sunday, 16:30 vs FC Britannia FC XI. Football’s back!