The Non-League Football Paper

Jake Gallagher’s Boots ‘n’ All – but never again in white!

Pic: David Loveday

JAKE GALLAGHER is the veteran of England C’s squad having made his debut against Jordan U23s back in March 2014.

Yet, two-and-a-half years later the 23-year-old Aldershot Town midfielder is a big part of Paul Fairclough’s team. The NLP sat down with him just before the team flew home from Tallinn Airport.

The NLP: So, how many caps is that now? Nine? Jake: Yeah, nine caps. I don’t know why Paul Fairclough keeps picking me, I’ve got no idea – I don’t even play well every week! But, seriously, I’m glad to be picked. Every time has been great. I’m glad Paul has the faith in me to perform with the Three Lions on my shirt. I’m very happy.

The NLP: You made your debut in Jordan, does it feel as special now? Jake: I think it gets better as it goes on. To keep getting picked is special. There are a few players who have come in and then never been picked again. Obviously quite a few boys have moved into the League, which is great. But to keep playing at this level and keep getting picked is really good.

The NLP: How did you find the game against Estonia? Jake: It was a difficult match. We started really well. Estonia didn’t really know what hit them. But once they’d got a foothold in the game you could tell they were all decent players and it was going to be a difficult night. But we did what we needed to do well. We kept them at bay, we didn’t let them have many chances until the very end, and we grinded out the result we needed.

The NLP: It was very disciplined in the second-half, with Paul wanting you to let their centre-backs have the ball rather than press them and chase around. Jake: You like to have the ball, but games go like that sometimes. You need to know how to play those games where you’re not going to have the ball that much. Credit to the lads, we did brilliantly. We didn’t get all up tight because we didn’t have possession. We did what we had to do which was work hard off the ball, win the second balls, clear our lines, put bodies on the line – we did that amazingly all night.

The NLP: It’s the second good away win in this year’s International Challenge Trophy following the 2-0 victory against Ukraine in March. Jake: Definitely. People forget about that win because the team chops and changes a lot. We had the disappointment of losing to Slovakia in the summer when we were 3-1 up and probably should have got the result. But before that, the game against Ukraine was brilliant. We dominated throughout. Then winning in Estonia – where it’s freezing cold and you’re having to jump in front of balls that are being smashed at you and putting your head in where it hurts – is credit to everyone.

The NLP: It’s also easy to forget that there were a lot new players when you met up at Heathrow on Saturday night. Jake: That’s something Paul and the backroom team do really well. He gets everyone involved and by the time you go out on the pitch you feel like a family.

The NLP: Right, now the big talking point of the night. You were wearing white boots. What’s going on there? Jake: That’s the first time I’ve ever played in anything other than black boots. We played Lincoln at the weekend before travelling straight to the England meet up. The boots I was packing ripped during the game. So I had to borrow Bernard Mensah’s white boots that were a size too small. Adi Pros or something – I don’t even know what they’re called. They were actually quite comfy. I took the sole out, but that’s the last time I’ll ever wear white boots.

The NLP: Bernard Mensah is quite a skilful player isn’t he? Jake: Yeah, I tried to take that into my game. In the second-half I did a little run down the line, tried to cut it back. Didn’t quite work. I wouldn’t have tried that in black boots. Just kick it and run. Well, not even that. Kick it and stay there.

The NLP: Paul likened you to Alan Ball. Jake: And I was No.7 – he wore that shirt didn’t he? I’ll take that.

The NLP: The win puts the team into the ICT final against Slovakia – how much do you want to be involved? Jake: I’ve got to keep performing for Aldershot and then hopefully I can get my tenth cap in Slovakia. It would be nice to top off my England C career with some silverware.

The NLP: We’ve got a plane to catch. Thanks Jake. Jake: Cheers.

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