Bring on the world champions, says proud Farsley striker

Farsley's Gibraltar international Adam Priestley
Farsley's Gibraltar international Adam Priestley
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Gibraltar and Farsley AFC forward Adam Priestley admits the prospect of swapping shirts with Poland captain and feared Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski tomorrow night has not readily crossed his mind.

Neither, when asked by The Yorkshire Post, had scoring Gibraltar’s first goal in a Uefa competition either.

Someone has to – and ultimately will – and after a full week’s training camp with his Gibraltar team-mates in Portugal getting ready for their historic first taste of tournament football, maybe now glorious reality is kicking in.

Priestley, 25, who lives in Sherburn-in-Elmet and who fits in working as a PE teacher at Morley Academy with playing part-time in the Evo-Stik North with Farsley, will rub shoulders with Lewandowski and company in the Estadio Algarve in Faro tomorrow evening as Gibraltar set sail on their Euro 2016 qualifying journey against the Poles.

It has already been some journey for Gibraltar, who, at 54, represent the newest member of Uefa and comfortably the tiniest.

Yet despite taking on the might of world champions Germany and Poland, alongside the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Georgia in Group D, Priestley insists Gibraltar will give it a go and not feel daunted amid such exalted company.

Priestley, born in Gibraltar where his father was stationed in the RAF before moving to England at the age of two, said: “It is crazy. It has taken a while to come around and now it has. Speaking to the lads, we just cannot wait to get going really.

“It is about us giving a good account of ourselves and seeing what we can do. We are not just going out there to make the numbers up and the manager has made sure that is not in any of the players’ mindset.

“Our resources are limited to other countries. But we know what we are good at and have a game-plan. Do that and there is potential to cause upsets.”

Priestley is actually one of three players with Yorkshire links in the squad, the others being former Barnsley and current Preston defender Scott Wiseman, born in Hull, and Rotherham-born former Millers’ defender Dave Artell, who plays for Welsh Premier League side Bala Town.

Priestley has featured in all five of Gibraltar’s games so far, from their first Uefa-recognised international in Slovakia last November to their first win over Malta this year.

On his experiences so far, Priestley, who was actually tweeted by a fan in Gibraltar about his eligibility following the nation’s acceptance into Uefa in May, 2013, said: “For the first game, I went over thinking I’d be happy to get a run-out and luckily I started and that 0-0 draw was like a win.

“I remember the president of the Gibraltar FA came into the dressing room and the emotions were so high, even before the game as people had been working so hard for this.

“For it to happen for such a small country is such a big thing. It means so much to everyone and I have played a part in the four games since.”

Raised in England he may have been, but after being born in Gibraltar, Priestley has a strong attachment to his place of birth and expect him to give a heart-felt rendition of the territory’s national anthem tomorrow.

He said: “At one of the games, the manager told us that we had to learn it. To be fair, I had already looked at it and knew the majority of the words!”

Priestley will not be short of support from home in Sherburn and among his team-mates at Farsley, who, incredibly, have another international on duty in newly-capped St Kitts and Nevis midfielder Jason St Juste.

A number of friends and family plan to watch Gibraltar in their game with Ireland in Dublin next month, with his pupils at school also avidly following his fortunes with Gibraltar.

Priestley, who returns to work at school on Tuesday, added: “All the kids love all the Gibraltar stuff and are constantly asking questions to distract themselves from work. I keep telling them to get on with their work a lot of the time!”

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