Back to the day job

One day an international footballer, the next a firefighter. That's the reality for Jordan Perez, Gibraltar's top goalkeeper, who played his part in an admirably disciplined performance on Wednesday night.

Last Updated: 06/03/14 at 14:50 Post Comment

Jordan Perez: Gibraltar's No 1... firefighter

Jordan Perez: Gibraltar's No 1... firefighter

UEFA's newest (and smallest) member nation lost 2-0 to Estonia at the Victoria Stadium, but it was a much closer game than the scoreline suggests.

Perez, whose father Emmanuel is the goalkeeping coach, was well protected by the five-man defence in front of him, but he still made some decent saves when called upon to keep the margin of defeat respectable.

"We had to play with our hearts, determination and work as a team. You can't complain, the guys gave it all," he said.

It was a huge improvement on their previous game just four days before, when they had gone down 4-1 to the Faroe Islands.

The 27-year-old returned to his day job on Thursday, working from 5pm until 8am on Friday at the fire station, and he's the latest in the line of employees who have also represented the Gibraltar FA over the generations.

Yogan Santos, a left-back for the national side, also works there, and they have to fit training around their shift patterns.

Perez said: "It is quite hard. People don't realise the amount of effort we put in. It's when you have work, leave work, train and then you lose family time.

"Thankfully, most of our families really back us up and we're quite fortunate."

Although they also play in a domestic league, it is a constant challenge for the players to keep themselves fit, especially at the level required to prepare for international matches.

It's a far cry from the lifestyle of millionaire footballers of Europe's top leagues, but in six months' time, Allen Bula's squad of mainly semi-professionals and amateurs will come up against the likes of Robert Lewandowski as they take on Poland in their first Euro 2016 qualifier.

"When we had the draw, we were all psyched up. It's going to be a tremendous feeling, being an official competitive game, something I've been waiting all my life for," he said.

But the hard work has to continue, through the return friendly in Estonia in late May and possibly a couple more before they step out on the pitch at the Estadio do Algarve in Faro.

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