Just who are The New Saints Champions League opponents Europa FC?
This week, The New Saints were paired with Gibraltarian champions Europa FC in the first round of Champions League qualifying, but just who are they?
John McMillan who is the Head Researcher for Gibraltar on Sports Interactive game Football Manager has given us an insight of the club nicknamed “The Green Machine”.
They were founded in 1925 and reformed in 2014. This will be there first appearance in the competition after winning the Gibraltar League for the first time since 1952 from Lincoln Red Imps who had won it 14 season’s previous.
It was a treble winning season for Europa last season, as they claimed the Pepe Reyes, which is the English equivalent to the Community Shield and The Rock Cup, beating Lincoln Red Imps in both.
They have been in European competitions for the last season and made their way into the second round of Qualifying, beating FC Pyunik in the first round, with a 3-2 aggregate score line. They then narrowly lost to AIK Solna, who beat Welsh side Bala Town to get to that stage, losing just 2-0 to AIK.
Jose Gallardo, the Director of Football at the club, took over back in May 2016 and oversaw the clubs most successful season. Gallardo himself wa a player in the Segunda Division B, but an injury meant that he had to retire ealry. He currently obtains the UEFA A Licence qualification.
Most recently, the club announced that he would be rewarded for his success with the team and extended his contract by a further two years.
— Europa FC (@EuropaFC_Gib) June 13, 2017
Interestingly, despite winning Gibraltar’s national league, only one player was called up to the national team for their World Cup qualifier against Cyprus, that was Liam Walker, who had experience playing for English side Portsmouth.
Just like The New Saints, Europa FC are a full time club and some of their players have played in the Spanish Lower leagues, with also a Ghanian international defender to boast in their ranks in Ibrahim Ayew. With a name like Ayew, you’d guess right in that he is the brother of Premier League brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew, who play for West Ham United and Swansea City.
At the tender age of 42, Alberto Merino, an ex Real Balompedica Linese player, featured for Europa in every game last season, showing that he still has it at such an age.
For what will be the clubs first time in the Champions League, they will be looking forward to what looks to be an exciting tie between Welsh Champions and the Gibraltarian Champions.
(Featured Image: C Correa Photography)