- Kyle Goldwin didn’t even play 11-a-side until in his late-20s
- His heroics helped Gibraltar enjoy their footballing capstone
- ‘Chino’ chats to FIFA.com about a crazy few days
A labourer was late for his shift on Wednesday morning. When he did turn up, he spent most of the morning chatting with colleagues about the wild, late night he’d just experienced.
Yet congratulation rather than castigation was forthcoming from his boss. The 33-year-old’s tardiness wasn’t due to a hangover. His chatter was at the demand of others. And his supervisor was among those in awe of Kyle Goldwin’s mythological barricading of Gibraltar’s net over a national zenith.
“I’ve barely slept!” the goalkeeper who helped Gibraltar arrest a run of 22 defeats in 22 competitive outings with back-to-back victories in the UEFA Nations League told FIFA.com. “I didn’t get to bed until about 2:30 in the morning and I had to be in work for 8am. I set off in good time, but people kept stopping me on the way and hugging me!”
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and his Armenia team-mates registered a whopping 35 shots on Saturday. They didn’t beat ‘Chino’ once as Gibraltar pulled off a preposterous upset in Yerevan against a microscopic nation 98 places to their south on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
“From the moment we kicked off, I had the feeling it was our night,” said Goldwin. “You save one and then another and you begin to feel invincible.
“I’m very happy with the performance I put in, but the whole team was simply amazing. If you look at the stats, yes, they had a lot of shots, but most came from outside the box and that was because my team-mates were phenomenal.
“We’ve been working our socks off on a weekly basis to try and achieve such a result. It felt like a dream, but at the same time we all believed in our abilities and in our determination to pull it off.
“When the final whistle went it was surreal, unbelievable. The atmosphere in the dressing room was incredible. And the reaction we got from the Armenia fans was amazing. They gave us a standing ovation, clapping, cheering.”
Julio Ribas’s soldiers felt the love again three days later. Victoria Stadium was abuzz throughout as a series of saves from Goldwin, and second-half headers from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina, propelled the part-timers to a 2-1 win over Liechtenstein.
“Gibraltar’s absolutely bouncing,” enthused Goldwin. “The atmosphere here is unbelievable. It’s all people are talking about. Everyone still keeps hugging me. My phone hasn’t stopped.
“The UEFA Nations League has been brilliant for the smaller nations. You play Germany, France and the big nations and nobody expects you to get anything, but it’s disheartening to concede seven, eight goals. Now we can compete and keep improving.”
Goldwin’s transmogrification eclipses his country’s. A futsal goalkeeper, he didn’t properly begin playing 11-a-side until he was in his late-20s, when a friend of his reformed Gibraltar United in 2014. The Peter Schmeichel admirer was uncapped until the end of March. He didn’t even have a Wikipedia page when he made his international debut.
A Gibraltar side that had conceded 52 goals in 11 matches since joining FIFA beforehand, however, have leaked just five in five, winning three of those matches, with Goldwin sporting their gloves.
“I work full-time for the government in Gibraltar, I’m a husband and father of two beautiful kids, and then we train daily with our clubs, so I like to say that I have three jobs!” Goldwin said. “We train 9-11pm six days a week. And we train with the national team once or twice a week.
“I’m very passionate man. Football is everything. If I’m sick or injured, I’ll still be there. I’ll always give everything I have for my country and this shirt.”