Gibraltar international experience was ‘incredible’ says Romford keeper Cafer
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 April 2020
© Copyright: GT Photography 2020 - George Thomas Arthur Tewkesbury, all rights reserved
Romford goalkeeper Matt Cafer says his experience of playing for Gibraltar international team was ‘life-changing’ and hopes he can make more appearances in the future.
The 25-year-old joined Boro in January from Bruno’s Magpies in Gibraltar after being back and forth between the countries from 2014 where he also played for Europa in the Europa League.
Cafer received a number of call-ups to the international squad after being made eligible but it wasn’t until November 2018 that he won his first cap against Macedonia in a 4-0 defeat.
“Our first two games were at home to Macedonia and away to Liechtenstein and we lost both of them,” Cafer said.
“Even then, just going to Lichenstein, flying on our plane, and living that experience, I was like ‘wow this is amazing’.
“When we had Armenia away, that was our first-ever victory in a competitive game, and that was life-changing for me.
“It was just the best experience and I can’t put it into words that feeling of a little nation with a population of 30,000 beating nine million Armenia away from home. It was honestly incredible.”
He added: “I made my debut not long after that in November 2018, and it was Macedonia away.
“I was so nervous the night before, I could barely sleep, and I don’t really get nervous for football matches.
“When the whistle went for kick-off then it felt like a normal football match, but the whole build-up was something special and something I’d love to do again.
“It’s something that is in the pipeline and is a possibility, obviously you never know what is going to happen, I need to be playing well here or over there, wherever I am playing because there is good pool of goalkeepers in the Gibraltarian league who also want to be called up.”
The former Bath City and Weymouth shot-stopper revealed how his move to Gibraltar first came about which led to him becoming an international.
“When I first moved over it was in January, I just got released from Yeovil, I was a first year pro when they were in the Championship,” he added.
“I had an agent at the time and he said the only club I can get you at the moment is a club in Gibraltar, they’re fighting to qualify in the Europa League, six months and then we’ll come home to find you a club.
You may also want to watch:
“We qualified for the Europa League and he said ‘why don’t you sign for another year’ so I said ‘go on then’.
“I ended up staying out there and got contacted by their FA saying ‘you’re eligible for our international side is that something you would be interested in’ and straight away I bit their hand off.
“Within a couple of months I got my first call-up and that was when the Nations League had just begun.”
Cafer also revealed how his move from international football to playing for Romford in the Isthmian League North under multi-millionaire Glenn Tamplin came about.
“I was in Gib for five and a half years on and off, and I took the decision upon myself in November/December last year that I did want to move back to the UK,” he said.
“Obviously I’d lived in Gibraltar long enough to gain my eligibility for the national side and that was amazing.
“That was something for me that has been my best decision, footballing-wise, in my life, but I made that decision that I wanted to move back to England and work my way up the footballing ladder.
“I got in contact with a guy on Twitter, who is ‘Love Non League Football’, and he’s a really nice bloke.
“He led the question to me, ‘why don’t you have an agent looking after you?’ and I said I’ve dealt with a lot of agents in my time and they’re not the most trustworthy, so I said I want to try do it by myself.
“He said ‘I can help you out if you want’ and I was like if you don’t mind, I’m not expecting you to work for free and go head over heels, but if you don’t mind putting a tweet out that would be great.
“It created me a lot more attention than I thought it would have, I’m not sure if it caught the eye of Glenn or if he already knew him and put it forward, but Glenn said to me ‘why don’t you come train with us and see if you like it?’
“The idea of working with Glenn, who I’d heard of previously, I’d always admired him, and thought what he did at Billericay was amazing.
“He really does put his life and soul into it, which I witnessed first hand.
“I thought it’s maybe not the level I wanted to come back into, and that was until I played in it, as I think you underestimate the level of that league.
“The standard is actually a lot better than what the league gets merit for. Maybe I gave it a little bit of discredit when I signed, which I can hold my hands up to, as I’m big enough and old enough to say I got it wrong.”