On the sovereign island back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Gibraltar United was truly a force to be reckoned with. Since being reformed in 2014, they are now back in the Premier Division.
At Dictate The Game, we have a passion for getting an insight into footballer’s lives across the world, learning about their leagues and footballing livelihoods. We managed to get the opportunity to ask Kaylan some questions about life in Gibraltar and what it is like playing there.
Playing in such a small league with only 1 stadium throughout the division, must be pretty fascinating but yet weird in a way. How is it?
To be honest you tend to grow up not really knowing any better so it kind of becomes normal to share the stadium. Obviously now that I have grown up and you get to see clubs all over the world have their stadium it does become weird especially when you realize how many leagues are played on it including the junior leagues.
What is it like, playing in Gibraltar?
It’s kind of changing. Growing up you would play week in week out against friends which you have grown up with and who you know exactly how they play. Having joined UEFA a few years back and now FIFA it means that we are getting a higher influx of foreign players meaning that the level being played is increasing every year. Not only players but we are also getting a higher standard of coaches meaning that we are vastly improving and learning on a day to day basis.
It’s kind of a mix. Most teams in our league like to press a lot which doesn’t give you time on the ball making you need to know what you’re going to do before you receive the ball. It is mostly a short passing style of football but the odd boot forward under pressure is just as valued.
Who’s your footballing icon and who you look up to?
Has to be both David Beckham and Paul Scholes, both legends. Growing up I was always a big Beckham fan, the quality he had on the ball was just unreal and his technique striking the ball was so unique. Scholes on the other hand was completely different, his ability to dictate games for fun and his passing range was just amazing. He made football look so easy and was never phased about not getting the recognition he deserved.
Where do you see yourself as a player, in 5 years?
It is kind of hard to judge to be honest. Two years ago I would honestly not have seen myself playing in Gibraltar’s Premier with the amount of quality players that were being brought in and the level of improvement from local players. This being the case through hard work here I am now playing week in week out at this level. So in 5 years I am not too sure but I think once I am done with 11 aside I would see myself playing futsal for a few years.
Once your playing career is over, would you want to go into coaching etc or maybe something like punditry?
I haven’t really given much thought to it to be honest. It will all depend how much time I will have on my hands after my day to day job. I would probably look into coaching the younger ones and share as much of my football knowledge and experience with them to help develop football in Gibraltar.
How well do you think yourself, and Gibraltar United can do this season?
On a personal note I think that if I pick up where I left off last season I could go on to have a good consistent solid season and help the team improve from last year. With respect to the team we have made some very good signings over the summer and we can see already that the team has improved a lot. I think that if we stick together as a team, carry on playing for each other and listening to our coaching staff I believe that we can shock many people who have written us off for a second year running.
Being the age of 25, how much do you think you can improve as a footballer, over the next few years?
I think I have a lot more to learn and improve as a footballer. As I mentioned before, being in UEFA/FIFA now means that we are getting higher standards of everything from players to coaching etc. Having not been exposed to this from a young age means that now we are learning a lot on a day to day basis. Personally and improvement wise I think I still have a lot to improve and learn so hopefully through hard work and listening to my coaches I will keep on getting better.
Being a central midfielder, have you ever dictated the game?
I think there are many types of central midfielders and for me personally I have always been the tough tackling type of player who will break up play and give it to play makers to dictate the game. I kind of do the dirty work and allow others to flourish. Even though that is the case that doesn’t mean that I don’t put in that odd ball through to the striker or wingers. It all depends on how the game is going and if the opportunity arises.
If you could play against anyone in the world, past or present, who would it be and why?
I think I would have to pick Paul Scholes. Legends like Pirlo, Zidane, Xavi, Guardiola and more have said how Scholes was the best player of his generation. The admiration that these legends have for him is unbelievable and for players like that to say those kind of things speaks volumes.
What would you say is your best strength, as a footballer?
It would definitely have to be my ability to play anywhere. In my team I am known as “polyfiller” as whenever there is a position that needs to be temporarily filled I am always told to do so. Even though I am a central midfielder looking at last season for example I did play quite a number of games in central defence and many on the wings both and the back and more advanced. Funnily enough I even played a game in the reserves as a goalkeeper as both of ours were injured and I quite enjoyed it.
How do you think Gibraltar’s leagues can grow and the national team becoming better?
I think Gibraltar’s league will carry on growing. We have now been given another Europa league spot by UEFA which just goes to show how far we have come in such a short space of time. Every time Gibraltar accomplish something be it at club level or national level it is making people more and more aware of Gibraltar and really putting us on the map. By this happening there are more players who will want to come to Gibraltar and try their luck here as so many are doing now. With regards to the national team I think that it all comes down to two things, the youth and their development plus how we take care of our own once we are older. We must continue to develop our youth but at the same time we must make sure that certain rules are placed so that teams field Gibraltarian players in order for our levels not to drop.
All of us at Dictate The Game would like to thank Kaylan for agreeing to do the interview, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the interview. With it being the first interview I’ve done, I’m very grateful to Kaylan for doing the interview and giving us an insight to Gibraltarian football.
All of us from Dictate The Game would like to wish Kaylan and his team, Gibraltar United a successful season.