Battling Barnfather earns Gibraltar call-up

Worcester News: (5901846) (5901846)

JUST two years after nearly losing an arm to superbug MRSA, goalkeeper Louie Barnfather is set for international honours with Gibraltar.

The 21-year-old Evesham United player has been called up by the island for a friendly against Malta on June 4 as part of preparations for the Euro 2016 qualifying programme.

Minnows Gibraltar have been drawn in Group 'D', which will see them play matches against Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Poland and Georgia.

But lining up for the nation of his birth appeared a distant dream for the Cheltenham Town youngster when he contracted MRSA while on a scholarship in Columbia, Kentucky, forcing him to return to England in February 2012.

Yet, he got his career back on track with Bishops Cleeve, which included a stint as a makeshift striker, before joining Evesham earlier this season.

Barnfather explained: "I caught MRSA through a cut on my arm in training.

"The next morning I woke up and my arm had just ballooned. I went straight to hospital and I was in for six weeks. It scuppered all my plans.

"I wanted to win the national title with the university and hopefully get put on the MLS (Major League Soccer) draft list.

"It was tough being completely down in the dumps and wondering where my football career had gone, but I have worked hard to get back.

"I was playing at Bishops Cleeve and started the season in goal but due to numbers I ended up playing up front. But my heart wanted to play in goal and it's my better position."

Barnfather, who was on Gibraltar's radar as a teenager, has now gone full circle and is preparing to jet out for a training camp.

He said: "I got a call out of the blue and they wanted my details so they could pick me and register me with UEFA.

"I have been buzzing and it's going to be an unbelievable experience. If I do play against the likes of Germany, hopefully we will get some good results."

He is the second United player to earn international recognition after Tesfa Robinson, who played for St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean Cup qualifiers in October 2012.

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