Chipolina and Walker match Van Persie’s Gibraltarese with five hits
Memphis Depay failed to save the Dutch honor in the European Championship qualifier against France (4-0) in extra time Friday night – if there could still be one – but he failed from 11 meters for the fourth time in his international career.
Depay therefore missed the chance to score his 44th goal for the Netherlands in his 87th international and move a little closer to record holder Robin van Persie (50 goals). Figures of which the top scorer of Gibraltar, tonight the opponent of the Netherlands in the Rotterdam Kuip, can only dream.
34-year-old Liam Walker (68 caps) and six years older Roy Chipolina (65), both of whom were in action last Friday in the European Championship qualifier game with Greece (3-0 home defeat), lead their country’s top scorer list with five goals each.
Together, they account for a third of the total output of Gibraltar, the tiny rocky country in the southern Iberian Peninsula that joined UEFA in 2013 and played its first international under the flag of the European Football Association that same year.
Walker and Chipolina, then and still today the captain of the national team, were both on the field against Slovakia. The 0-0 in the Algarve was an immediate result.
The second game, in front of 500 spectators at the home Victoria Stadium, yielded the first goal and came courtesy of Chipolina. The center defender headed in from a corner kick by his cousin Joseph. That the newcomers lost 4-1 to Faroe Islands after that lead did not spoil the fun.
Chipolina was born in London, moved to Gibraltar at age four, but lived back in England from age 12 to 18. During that period he was briefly on trial at Luton Town, but that turned out to be something.
Since 2006, the customs officer has played for Lincoln Red Imps FC, the 26-time national champion who in 2021 became the first Gibraltar club ever to reach the group stage of a European tournament, the Conference League in this case.
Clubmate Walker has built a richer resume. The attacking midfielder played at several small Spanish clubs and also tried his hand in England, but at both Portsmouth (League One) and Notts County (League Two) the adventure lasted only one season.
The Netherlands trounced Gibraltar twice. Watch the short summaries here:
Gibraltar has now had 75 matches, eight of which it managed to win. Two of the 58 defeats were not long ago against the Netherlands. Chipolina and his men were facing a 1-0 deficit at halftime on their own field two years ago, but got six goals in the second half.
In October 2021, the Gibraltarians, like tonight, were guests at De Kuip. This time the Orange production was limited to half a dozen goals. Depay scored one of his two goals from 11 meters. But he also missed a penalty.
The Dutch striker will no doubt be spinning on narrowing the gap with Van Persie. But who knows, the shared top scorership with Gibraltar may also come to an end. Walker struck two goals in the past seven internationals, but Chipolina in particular seems ON FIRE with three goals in the last five games of the European under-door.