Europa FC factfile
FootyOn produce a Europa FC factfile, in light of the new Gibraltarian league winners shocking Welsh champions The New Saints away in the first round of Champions League qualifying.
After coming out on top in the most closely fought Gibraltar Premier Division campaign for many years, as Europa FC ended Lincoln Red Imps’ 14-year title run, they carried on their momentum to take a crucial 2-1 lead back to their home tie.
The Green Machine – as they are nicknamed – have had a remarkable rise in the game after only reforming a couple of years ago, and they’ve already made an immediate mark in their debut Champions League campaign.
It comes just weeks after completing a domestic treble, having claimed the Pepe Reyes Cup (Gibraltar’s equivalent of the Community Shield) earlier this season, and then the Rock Cup against Lincoln after pipping them to the league title days before..
Read on as we provide a Europa FC factfile in full…
Originally founded in 1925, they won the top division just three seasons later in 1928/29, and claimed a further four during the 1930s.
Europa FC managed to win one more in 1951/52 – their last until this season – and during that time from 1938-1952 also lifted five Rock Cup trophies.
They ceased to exist under their current name in 1970, but later merged with a club called College in the 1980s.
Known as College Cosmos and later College Europa, they eventually split to become their own team again in 2014 after Gibraltar became UEFA members. College 1975 are now in the Second Division.
In the British oversees territory’s maiden season under the UEFA banner in 2013/14, while known as College Europa, the club finished fourth but became the first Gibraltarian team to qualify for the Europa League after being runners-up in the Rock Cup.
The following season, they matched their feat of getting into the Europa League qualifying stage, but this time also finished second in the Premier Division.
Their first two campaigns in Europe ended in big losses to Vaduz and Slovan Bratislava, without scoring. But, after coming second again in the Gibraltar top flight in 2015/16, their fortunes on the continent changed.
Now under their original name Europa FC, they knocked out Armenian team Pyunik 3-2 on aggregate in the first qualifying round. They were then beaten by Swedish giants AIK but, along with Lincoln Red Imps reaching the same stage in the Champions League, helped Gibraltar earn an extra EL place for 2017/18.
During the recent domestic league campaign, Europa FC suffered just two losses from 27 total matches to finish on 73 points – one above Lincoln.
The Red Imps were on a run of 14 titles in a row too, which was the joint-record in Europe – along with Skonto of Latvia from 1991–2004. They were agonisingly close to matching the world record as well, as it’s believed Tafea of Vanuatu managed 15 from 1994-2008/09.
Compared to other Gibraltarian teams, Europa FC have fewer homegrown players than most – which has caused some debate on the Rock – but it has clearly helped them to where they are today.
However, in order to keep within the rules – clubs must have at least three Gibraltarian players in their matchday squads, with at least one on the field at all times – they swooped for the territory’s most prized player, Liam Walker, at the beginning of last season.
The former Portsmouth playmaker also happened to be Lincoln’s key player the previous few campaigns, which made the deal all the more of a coup for the Green Machine.
Walker once again showed his class last season by scoring 15 in the league, and was a key part of their win over 2-1. The last of which was the opener in their final game against Glacis United on their way to winning 2-0, to secure the title.
View Walker’s strike below. Video provided by Vanessa Correa:
— Vanessa Correa (@vanessa190783) May 21, 2017
Other Gibraltarians that were used last season are English-born Carl Machin, Lance Cabezutto, Sykes Garro and Sean Gilbert.
The majority of Europa FC’s first-team regulars are from neighbouring Spain, with 42-year-old centre back Alberto Merino making the most appearances in all competitions.
How apt it was for the Green Machine and the league’s top scorer last season, Kike Gomez (with 30 from just 25 games), to net the second in their last game and the winner against TNS.
The Sevilla-born striker scored in all but seven top-flight games he played in, and managed 34 in all comps. Aged just 23, the club will hope to keep him many more years.
Watch the TNS v Europa FC highlights below, including Kike’s fine finish, to secure victory below…
Kike’s compatriot Guille Roldan, a versatile attacker, contributed with a further 16 goals last term.
Goalkeeper and captain Javi Munoz, 35, was formerly on the books of the likes of Sevilla and Malaga earlier in his career.
Midfielder Alex Quillo, meanwhile, started out at Atletico Madrid and, although his only two senior appearance for them were in the Copa del Rey, he did play in La Liga once with Almeria back in 2010.
Quillo, whose time with Atleti would’ve coincided with current Gibraltar national team and recent Gibraltar United FC defender Jason Pusey‘s spell there as a youth, contributed with eight goals and three assists this league campaign.
He also opened the scoring for Europa against The New Saints.
Europa FC also have none other than an Ayew brother on their books, as former Ghana international Ibrahim shares the same famous father, Abedi Pele, as Premier League forwards Andre and Jordan.
The 29-year-old right back has been a huge influence for the champions, having brought much experience after playing for the likes of Zamalek and Lierse, as well as gaining eight caps in the past.
Other notable stars this season for Europa FC include another Ghanaian Mustapha Yahaya, Argentine-born Italian Martin Belfortti and Spaniards Joselinho, Jesus Toscano, Ivan Moya, Toni Garcia and Yeray Romero.
As general manager, sporting director and head coach of Europa FC, is there anything Juan Jose Gallardo can’t do?
In just his first season in management, taking over from compatriot Dimas Carrasco just over a year ago, the Spaniard has already done wonders for the Green Machine.
If anything, though, he’s put a lot of pressure on himself to replicate this success, but that certainly hasn’t showed so far.
As a youngster, he played as high up as in the Spanish Segunda Division B, but injuries cut his career short.
Since then, he worked at a number of clubs in his homeland, before initially becoming Europa FC sporting director in 2015.
Having only just turned 41 on the day of securing the title, Gallardo has a promising future, and has a great chance of equalling or even bettering Lincoln’s achievements in the Champions League this summer.
If he were to stay for longer, he could even aim to help the club stay as the dominant team in Gibraltar during these exciting times, where Gibraltar United FC recently announced a deal with Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado. While, the territory have also announced big plans to invest in and completely transform sport on the Rock.
— HM Govt of Gibraltar (@GibraltarGov) April 18, 2017
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