Exclusive Scott Wiseman column

Gibraltar players celebrate scoring  at Hampden Park
Gibraltar players celebrate scoring at Hampden Park
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Sunday was a pretty momentous day in the football history of my country Gibraltar.

Lee Casciaro’s 19th-minute equaliser against Scotland in a European Championship qualifier at Hampden Park on Sunday was our first ever goal in a competitive fixture.

I cannot really begin to describe my feelings when Lee blasted his shot past David Marshall into the bottom corner of the net.

Having lost all four of our previous qualifiers without scoring and conceding 21, I must admit to feelings of surprise from my defensive vantage point when I saw the opposition’s net bulge on Sunday.

The shock quickly gave way to elation as we all danced for joy and judging by the reaction of our small band of supporters on the terraces, they were just as happy.

I think the most pleasing aspect about the goal was its quality. It was not a scruffy effort from a corner or a hotly-disputed penalty, it was actually a well-worked goal and a really smart finish.

The goal did not just surprise us – I think the vast majority of those inside Hampden were also in a state of shock.

The home fans had only just completed their celebrations after Shaun Maloney had handed Scotland the lead a minute earlier from a penalty.

As we walked back to our half after Casciaro’s goal ready for the re-start of the game, my overriding feeling was, ‘What do we do now’?

Could we actually go on and cause one of the biggest shocks in world football and beat the Scots?

But our bubble soon burst when Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher put Scotland back in front 10 minutes later and then Maloney scored a second from the penalty spot in the 34th minute.

I think in those minutes after scoring, we showed our naivety and maybe got caught up in the moment a little bit.

Unfortunately, Fletcher scored again to leave us 4-1 down at half-time and he went on to complete his hat-trick in the second half as we eventually lost 6-1.

Obviously, nobody likes to lose – and lose heavily – but we were pretty happy after the game to have scored against a team like Scotland, who boast some real quality players.

As a tiny nation, which was only recognised by Europe’s governing body UEFA in 2013, scoring a goal represents big progress.

We are actually still fighting for recognition from FIFA so that we can take part in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and I think a judgement will be made next month.

As a team, we go into games not really expecting to win, but we always go in to games with the mindset of producing a good performance and improving as a nation.

If we can do that then maybe it won’t be too long in the future when we will avoid defeat.

Most of our team are
 part-time players, who have full-time careers away from the game. Our goalscorer Casciaro and his younger brother Kyle are policemen but there are lawyers, a few hospital workers, labourers – there is quite a vast array of different careers.

David Artell is one of my fellow defenders, who has enjoyed a career in English football. He has played for Rotherham, Morecambe, Crewe and Port Vale among a number of other clubs. He currently plays for Welsh team Bala Town.

Then there is Adam Priestley, who used to be a youth player at Leeds United and now turns out for non-league outfit Farsley.

A lot of people ask me if it is difficult preparing for a game, knowing that we do not have much chance of winning.

But I try to keep my own personal standards high and myself and people like David Artell try to use our experience to coach our team-mates into making them better. If I think somebody could do better then I will tell them and it’s all about trying to improve standards.

These past couple of years have been a great time for me personally. I thought my international days had long gone since representing England as a youth.

This season, I have played against Poland, the Republic of Ireland and most memorably the world champions Germany, in Nuremburg, last November.

We lost 4-0 but it was a great occasion and we played well. Joachim Low afterwards praised our performance, which was nice.

I think most importantly, I have made a lot of friends. A lot of the Gibraltar lads have roots in England and we always take the time to meet up when they come over for a visit.