League One star hopes to be rock of Gibraltar's defence ahead of Euro 2016 qualifiers

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Preston defender Scott Wiseman has spoke of his surprise at the emotion shown by his Gibraltar team mates as they prepare for their Euro 2016 qualifers.

Gibraltar's road to competitive football has been a long and arduous one. Having initially applied for UEFA acceptance in 1999, Spain opposed their inclusion after suggesting that other breakaway teams such as the Basque national team or Catalan national team could take inspiration from Gibraltar.

However, despite opposition from Spain and Belarus, UEFA finally accepted Gibraltar as a recognised UEFA nation in May 2013, with their first participation set for the 2016 European Championships qualification. After drawing their first official game 0-0 against Slovakia, Gibraltar were as ready as they could be to take on Group D for the Euro qualifiers - which will see them face Germany, Scotland, Poland, Georgia and Republic of Ireland.

As the smallest nation recognised by UEFA, it will always be an uphill struggle for Gibraltar to make an impact with their play. As a result, manager Allen Bula has looked to English players with Gibraltan roots. The biggest name was former manchester United, Sunderland and Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham, but after his retirement, the most recognisable face is Preston's Scott Wiseman.

The 28-year-old started his career with hometown club Hull City, and had loan spells with Boston United, Rotherham United and Darlington before completing a permanent move to the Quakers. Stints with Rochdale and Barnsley followed, before completing a free transfer move to Preston North End in January 2013.

Now, the Lilywhites full back is set to start against Poland later today - in Gibraltar's temporary home of Faro, Portugal - and revealed that he has a heightened sense of attachment to Gibraltar, who he qualifies to play for as a result of his mother being born there - despite having represented England at Under 20 level.

"It took me by surprise. I didn’t realise how emotional it was going to be for the country, and for me to be a part of that was very special. I was looking around and people were in floods of tears during the national anthem. It brought it home to me how much it meant to everybody. I’d gone into it a bit naive, thinking I was just going to play, but I didn’t realise the struggles they’ve gone through to get to this point. The release of emotion when it happened was incredible."

"I didn’t have an emotional connection to the country. It was just amazing to be part of that. It gave me that emotional connection. The UK-based players needed that, to realise what it was all about. We have been made to feel so welcome in the country, but to have that feeling brought it home. It feels like a huge part of me now. I’ve not made millions out of the game, but this is a second chance for me to play international football. In my eyes, I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance like this again."

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