Jayce Olivero - Living the Dream

At 19 years of age, Jayce Olivero is making a name for himself as one of Gibraltar’s most talented youngsters and is well on his way to becoming the leader of the next Gibraltarian football generation. With 7 senior caps under his belt already, his future looks extremely bright, but then so does the present for the left back. Ahead of the huge game, in Liege against Belgium, Jayce speaks to on what representing Gibraltar means to him and looking back on unfortunately becoming the first Gibraltarian to be sent off in Senior international football.

You have 7 caps under your belt now, what’s the feeling like to be called up to the National Team?

Its always an honour to be called up to play for the Gibraltar National Team and to represent my country on the international stage. I work very hard all year round to make sure I stand a chance of making the squad each time an international fixture comes around. I always look forward to it with the same excitement every time, as if it was my first time. It’s the highest level a footballer can dream to play at, and at only 19 years of age here I am extremely proud of playing for my country.

You are still so young in footballing terms. How are you finding international football given you have still not turned 20?

Yes indeed, I’ve just turned 19 in fact! At first it was a huge step. I was extremely nervous in my first game, I’d been around the squad but when I made my debut versus Liechtenstein it was unreal, especially playing in Gibraltar too! As I play more and more I have adapted to the pressures and the demands of international football and focus on the task ahead. All these games have developed the way I play, the way I train and the way I conduct my daily life off the pitch.

Does it help to have other youngsters in the squad around you?

I guess so but I mix equally with all the players. I love to hang around the senior players to learn off them, but yes, at first, it gave me a lot of comfort to have the other younger lads around with me as they were also making this big step up with me. They understood the nerves the pressure, the expectations of living up to the standards set by the senior players.

There is quite a bit of competition for places at the back now, does this make it more difficult for you?

The more competition there is the more difficult it is for every player, but it allows me to maintain my focus and not slip into my comfort zone. It means that if I don’t play well I lose my place in the side, so I have to maintain my performance levels to the highest possible standard I can, in every training session and when playing for Gibraltar.

Let’s go back to that red card in Cyprus, how did you react to that? Was that a real low point for you?

Obviously I was gutted at the time and especially immediately after the game. But it allowed me to reflect on my game as it meant 6 months with no international football. The two yellows were not for aggressive or violent behavior or anything of the sort, (that’s just not me) just two poor tackles. It was upsetting knowing that I couldn’t make the Bosnia & Herzegovina away game, (due to my suspension), but it wont change my physicality in my game. It will definitely improve my decision making especially at times when tiredness kicks in.

What do you make of this Belgian team we are up against?

Belgium have some of the most gifted players in the English Premier League and the worls in their squad, their standard and quality is immense, full of great professionals. They will be an extremely hard opponent, the toughest in the group (no disrespect to out other opponents) and are arguably one of the best international teams in the world.  

It will be a sellout in Liege, are you looking forward to it?

To be playing in a big stadium in front of a capacity crowd is always amazing. It’s great for us even though all the fans will be Belgians, but there will be some Gibraltar fans there. We don’t usually play in front of such large crowds so it will be yet another amazing experience for us all tomorrow. I can’t wait !!  

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