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The Manager’s thoughts.

Lucas Cazorla, native of Malaga is on the eve of his first match in Gibraltarian football as manager of the Club. He took the reins in early July following the departure of Manolo Sanchez Nuñez following a 3 year stint in charge. He faces the task of gelling a new squad together and putting across his football philosophy. We had a chat with him as he watched the Pepe Reyes Cup match between Lincoln and Europa yesterday evening.

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We first asked him about his career as manager and the clubs had been at. He started his career at UD San Pedro followed by a stints at Velez and Zenit Torremolinos. He then took the plunge abroad and signed on at Llanelli in the Welsh Premier League, he was justly proud of having taken the club to second place and into a first ever Europa League campaign in 2006. Returning to Spain for the 2007-08 season he took the job at Polideportivo Ejido and then at Ecija Balompie following their relegation from Spain’s second tier. Returning to his roots he once again managed Velez before joining Gibraltar United.

When asked about the squad he is about to lead into the season he had the following to say; ‘A very committed and professional group of players. There is an excellent cohesion as a group and as individuals. The spirit is great and morale is high with players eager for the challenges to come’. One gets the impression that Lucas values a good team ethic and good intrapersonal relationships.

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We talked at length about his football philosophy and it is clear that the man is passionate about the game. He has a reputation for playing a certain brand of football and he described it thus, ‘treating the ball well to occupy, create and exploit spaces in the attacking areas of the pitch.’ He talked about creating a style and philosophy on the pitch that should see exciting matches ahead.

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We finally asked him about his goals and objectives for the season and he told us that’ we aspire to everything but we work with our feet firmly planted in the ground, with great humility and with great respect to the opponent and officials always.’ He added he was very excited about the start of the new season and could not wait for kick off on Tuesday evening.

We thank Lucas for his time and also wish him and the lads all the best for the coming season.

Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam

Youth Focus: Under 10s

Our Under 10 team is coached by Father and Son team Joe and Liam Franco. Jos is no stranger to local youth football at all levels and even at National Squad level too. Liam is doubling up his youth coach duties with turning out for the senior team having made his debut against FC Bruno’s Magpies Reserves on Sunday. The Under 10s have been together for a number of seasons and are a well gelled and oiled football machine that got to the finals of the FUTSAL tournament and the Under 9 Cup last year. They capped off a great season by participating in the Boni Cup in Marbella in June. It is their turn to showcase their talents today.

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Liam, coming from a player who has played at the top level in Gibraltar and internationally, how vital is it the kids get the same type of training you did while playing football?

LF: I think it’s important our players are exposed to the best possible coaching available for them to give them the best chance of developing into good footballers. Our group has worked on a lot of ball work, working on the fundamentals. Pass, RWTB ECT. Joe and myself like our players to be comfortable and creative and we intend to continue working hard throughout the season to reach our goals.

Joe, how has preseason gone so far?

JF: We’ve taken part in friendlies across the border in Spain winning 2 drawing 1 and losing just the one game. This already has been a good learning curve for our young footballers as they’ve experienced firsthand the standard of football across the way. Now that we’ll begin our season the team with follow a strict football curriculum which will cover all areas of the game. The programme has been put together by both of us and we look forward to evaluating ourselves and the players.

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Lads, what are you hoping to achieve this season?

LF & JF: Our goals for the season are to see our players grow and develop. First and foremost it will be a job well done if our players improve into good individual footballers whilst performing and understanding their responsibilities as a team.

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Youth Focus: Under 5s

Today’s youth spotlight falls on the youngest members of our Club; the Under 5s. The Club has run a successful pre-leagues PeeWees session for the past two seasons under the excellent guidance of Earon Balloqui. The reshuffle of Youth Football carried out by the GFA over the Summer has meant that a new age category was created resulting in the fielding of Under 5 sides for the first time. Our group of young, budding footballers will be lead by Seamus Byrne a longtime supporter and indeed former player of the Club. He was kind enough to answer our questions.

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Seamus, how does it feel to be joining Gibraltar United at this exciting time?

It’s really exciting to be part of this new era for Gibraltar United. I am confident the new owners will bring a more professional set up that will raise our standards and ethics, both as a club and for the players. The main beneficiaries will be the children in our Youth Teams.

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What are you hoping to achieve with the team this coming season?

Last year, the team players were part of Gib Utd’s Peewees session and trained well under Earon Balloqui. This year, I hope players will improve their technical ability and have more awareness of the game. I hope through the training sessions and matches, players will be able to enjoy themselves and if we can win a game or a few it’s a bonus! Having fun and enjoying the game is our key objective to be able to foster a love for the game that will last a lifetime.

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Match Preview: Lynx Football Club

Match preview is brought to you courtesy of Turicum Private Bank.

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Record against Lynx F.C.

Played: 6
Won: 2
Drawn: 1
Lost: 3

Last Result: 1-1 (22-4-17)

Manager: Allen Bulla
Captain: Robert Guiling
Top Scorer 16/17: Raul Segura

Lynx was established in 2007 and have been a regular Premier Division side since 2012. Their most successful season so far has been in 2013/14 when they finished 3rd and reached the Rock Cup Final which they lost to Lincoln F.C.

Like United, Lynx have had a busy summer. Former Gibraltar National Manager Allen Bulla took over as manager from Albert Parody and they have carried out a large overhaul of their squad. Local players like former Gib Utd centre half Lee Buhagiar and Jeremy Lopez joined the Red and Yellows amid a large number of local players signing for the club. As is customary they also have a fairly large non local contingent but they have lost Mosquera who was their defensive stalwart last year. United vs Lynx matches tend to be close run and well contested matches and in essence this 7th encounter between the clubs sees two massively overhauled sides clash in their opening match of the 2017/18 season.

Captain’s Chat

With the start of the league barely 5 days away we decided to catch up with our new look Captains for the season.

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Chino, Brad and Jamie with the Club’s new training gear.

The captain’s armband had been left vacant once Robert Montovio left the playing staff and it was Michel Salgado himself who announced Chino as Club Captain at the Club Gala Night held in June. Brad Power and Jamie Bosio were named as Vice Captains for the season and they took time out of  a busy preseason training programme to answer a few questions.

It has been a very busy transfer window with many players leaving and many more coming in to reinforce the squad and the Skippers addressed the issue for us. Chino for one was pleased to see the influx of new players and stated the Club should be praised for the efforts. Brad likewise welcomed the reinforcements claiming that, ‘the club has added quality in different areas of the pitch. Goals is something which we lacked last season but our new additions this year will address that issue and allow us to hopefully get more results and points on the board.’ Sentiments that were echoed by Jamie, ‘ I think we’ve signed some very decent players with plenty of experience of playing in different leagues that could prove vital this year.’

Preseason started very early this year with the players hitting the beach as early as 29th July and have played a substantial number of preseason friendlies, essential to the gelling of a new squad. Chino’s thoughts on the matter were, ‘ This year preseason has had a different but positive feel about it as the club has changed its philosophy. Its has been far more professional and competitive. We have played lots of friendlies where the new players have made their mark and raised the bar as a whole for the club.’

Both Brad and Jamie agreed with Chino with the latter further adding, ‘all in all I think the preparation has been ideal. Many hours of work will hopefully show come the start of the season.’ All three also agreed that the standard of professionalism across the Club had been raised and it was being felt on the training pitch with Brad highlighting the intensity during the sessions and the knock on positive effects that was having.

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We kick off aginst Lynx F.C. this coming Monday at 21:00 and all three were asked about their expectations for the match.

Chino answered, ‘Monday’s game will no doubt be a tough game as its always is against a resilient lynx but everyone is upto the task and securing those first 3 points is vital for a positive start.’

Brad expressed similar sentiments, ‘everyone is buzzing for kick off and our final preparations are almost complete. We have a game plan and although both teams have changed a lot from last season we are hoping for a positive start to get confidence right from the off. We’ll go into the season game by game and as we continue to gel as a squad we will hope to be looking further up the table this season.’

Finally Jamie aslo responded, ‘ Lynx are always a tough side to come up against. They usually invest heavily each summer, so we are expecting no different. They will be well-drilled under Bula and I’m sure he will want a positive start to the campaign on Monday like we do. It’ll be a gritty game and I’m really looking forward to getting the ball rolling.’

The Captains and the squad are raring to go and as they strode off onto the training pitch Chino, Brad and Jamie exuded quiet confidence that Gibraltar United was ready for the season to come and impatient to get the ball rolling!

Vi Et Animo, Ad Victoriam!

Farewell Robert! The Gunslinger makes his Exit!

All great stories come to an end sometime and for the the sharpest gun in the West the sun has set over his Gibraltar United Career on the pitch.

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Robert joined us for the start of the 2015/16 season as our marquee signing in the attacking area of the pitch, leaving Second Division side Europa Point as the lure of working with former Boss Manolo was too strong for Robert to resist. He set the tone for his Red and White career by scoring his first goal in his first match against a feisty Britannia.

That set him off on a remarkable scoring streak that saw him net 15 times for the first team and a further 8 times for the Reserves. His goals against Man 62, Lynx FC and most notably Glacis and Angels FC saw the club safe in a difficult first season in the top flight. The moniker John Wayne was to serve Robert well in his first season as almost every ball he touched in the area was converted into a goal. His connection with Pitu was deadly as one can appreciate below.

Scoring 15 league goals in a struggling side, add to that 9 for the Reserves, brought Robert to the attention of Jeff Wood and the clamour for him to get capped was immense. Roberts prowess on the pitch made Mr Wood’s selection easy. A local forward getting regular game time and scoring regularly could not be left out despite the club’s standing in the league. As it was Robert earned his two UEFA caps in the home friendlies against Latvia and Leichtenstein in March 2016. He was to carry on being a regular call up for the following year as Gibraltar begun its FIFA journey as well; just rewards for his efforts.

The following season was much like the last as we fought at the wrong half of the table but yet again Robert ended the season as our top goalscorer, netting six times. It was with a heavy heart that he approached the club informing us of his decision to step down as age has finally caught up with him. His sharpness in front of the goal has not blunted and it will be Olympique 13 that will benefit from this poacher extraordinaire as he is sure to set the 2nd Division alight!

His eagerness to help with our youth has seen him become a coach and will continue that role. Though he leaves the club as a player he still works tirelessly passing on his experience and wisdom to the young strikers in our youth ranks. Indeed Robert has certainly become a Gibraltar United man through and through!

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Farewell Capitan!

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Credit to Christopher Milan, Christian Correa, Core Photography and Snaprimages for the photos.

Season in Review

30th June is a marked day in many football calendars around the world as it sees the end of one season and the start of another with many contracts traditionally finishing on this date. As such it is fitting that we post our 2016/17 season review today as the football world begins to turn its attention to the 2017/18 season.

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United moved fast and quick in the heady days of the summer of 2016 to secure several marquee signings. GFA regular Jamie Bosio joined from Lincoln FC after completing his studies and he was joined by the Hernandez brothers from Man 62. Jason Pusey, Paul Podesta, Ashley Rodriguez, Aymen Mouehli, Erin Barnett Dani Wink and Jesse Victory all signed for the club in a bid to challenge for a place higher up in the league.

A mixed preseason saw an inconsistent run of results as Manolo gelled in so many new faces into the squad. So many new players in key positions meant that there was an unfamiliarity and lack of chemistry that takes time to foster. Yet as is his want, the manager drilled the squad hard in preseason to have them ready for a late September kick off against Manchester 62.

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United’s first game of the 16/17 Season

Robert Montvio promised to carry on where he had left off the previous year by netting a brace that earned United a point when perhaps they should have got three. After one game the league took its first hiatus for International Football and Jeff Wood called up a number of United players and its also provided an opportunity for new players to gel with their new team mates. Games against recently crowned European Champions Portugal and the first FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Gibraltar followed.

The league continued mid October with United facing tough opposition in champions Lincoln, 3rd placed St Joseph’s and in Mons Calpe the surprise package of the season. 3 defeats left us 7th hovering above Europa Point, Lions and Lynx FC. Our first win of the season came against the latter with yet another Montovio goal. United had showed great maturity in their play and the results against Lincoln in particular showed the progress made.

United were dealt a major injury blow early in the season when defensive stalwart, Brad Power, succumbed to a major injury that was to leave him out of the game for a long time. Jason Pusey stepped into the breach and became the defensive rock Manolo built his defence. Erin Barnett was his constant companion flanked by Pishu and Perez. A dour 0-0 draw against Lions FC augured what was to come however.

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Robert in action vs Lincoln Red Imps

The Red and Whites next tasted ‘victory’ in a forfeited match in early December but broke off for the Christmas with a tremendous morale booster of a 3-1 win over Man 62 in which Paul Podesta scored a spectacular long range effort to seal the win. The Red and Whites however entered a very negative spiral of results that threatened to unhinge the whole season.

In a run of 12 matches from January to April, United garnered two points and went 6 games without scoring as the dependable John Wayne (aka Robert Montovio) found that his powder had gone somewhat dry. A 93rd minute loss to basement club Europa Point saw United at their lowest ebb as the spectre of relegation loomed large. January had also seen club stalwarts Jared Buhagiar and Carl Thomas leave the club, they had a combined appearance total of 125 and would now don the claret and blue of Glacis United. EL Andalussi and Marquez were transferred to Mons Calpe while evergreen Robba resigned for the club alongside Paul Grech.

Gibraltar United also showed that it was committed to its civic duties when it supported a charity initiative by Stuart Felice and joined him for his Dip a Day on a cold, wet but fun March afternoon at Camp Bay.

April 2017 however brought the most momentous news in the Club’s recent history. News broke that former Real Madrid and Spain international Michel Salgado, alongside Dubai based banker Pablo Dana, had bought the club. There was an immediate stir of excitement, not only among United supporters, as Michel Salgado landed on the Rock on the 4th April 2017 to announce not only his purchase of the club but also a partnership with Turicum Private Bank as the club’s main sponsor. Michel met all the teams in the Youth Division as well as the Senior squad. Morale was on the up and the effect was immediately felt on the field.

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United had rediscovered their form. A battling point against St Joseph’s was followed by two more draws and a much needed victory against Glacis United that pulled United away from the relegation places and into safety. Both Hernandez brothers scored against Glacis United with Pishu showing a composure beyond his years to seal the win very late on. Despite a catastrophic result against Europa FC, United saw the season out in 7th place, an improvement on last season and with solid foundations being laid for a more promising 2017/18 season as the Salgado era began.

The club finished the season with a massive recruitment drive and held youth trials at the stadium for over 130 young  players and held a charity Gala night in which £5,000 was raised for the Calpe House trust. Club legend Adolfo Ramriez was named the Club’s Life Honorary President. Oh yes and just the small matter of a World Cup and Champions League Winner, Brazil legend called Roberto Carlos being the club’s guest of honour!

 

Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam!

Seniors!

Michel was also keen to meet the senior squad and staff. He was introduced to First Team Manager, Manolo Sanchez Nuñez; Assistant Manager, Javier Sanchez Alfaro; Physio, Gavin Viñales; Coach, Chris Currer and goalkeeping coach Edgar Harrison.

Captain Robert Montovio also introduced Michel to every player in the squad and Michel also directed several words to the players extolling the virtues of sacrifice, dedication, hard work and effort.

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Senior squad, staff and club officials.

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Skipper Montovio introduces the squad.