Higginbotham impressed by Gibraltar setup

Veteran defender Danny Higginbotham says Gibraltar are trying to set up their fledgling national team 'the right way'.

Gibraltar will make their full international debut against Slovakia on Tuesday in a friendly international with ex-Stoke and Southampton defender Higginbotham, who now plays for Chester, and Scott Wiseman (Barnsley) the two main professionals in the squad.

Higginbotham, who learnt his trade with Manchester United, conceded he had never imagined he would make his international debut at the age of 34, while he argued Gibraltar will surprise many with their professionalism.

"Didn't really think by the time I turned 34 this would happen so it was a pleasant surprise and something which I couldn't turn down the opportunity," Higginbotham said.

"I have come over here and the professionalism and the way they are trying to do everything is pretty special.

"You can see they are trying to do things the right way and leaving no stone unturned and it is great and a privilege for me to be involved in it."

Gibraltar has struggled for 16 years to become an independent member of UEFA but the British-owned island has faced opposition from Spain, which has dragged out the process.

The island with a population of just under 30,000, which sits off the southern tip of Spain, has become the smallest member of UEFA but their inaugural head coach Allan Bula has high hopes for Gibraltar.

"I want Gibraltar to be a respected nation. There are lots of small nations that are highly respected in UEFA," Bula said.

"That is one of my targets to be respected like the others. Like I have said many times, I will push myself to the limit in what goals and targets I put.

"I am not going to sit on my laurels or just accept that because we are a small nation people think it is OK for us to just keep on losing and then get a pat on the shoulder, I don't want that.

"I have said it and will keep on saying it my aim now with three years is to try and get to France (for Euro 2016)."