From studying at university and playing in Step 7 at the same time, to Euro Qualifiers, to Teaching, To ACL injuries and coaching in the present day… Jamie Bosio’s story is both unique and inspiring as well as challenging.

Anyone who has played football at any level has dreamt of the same two things – representing  their country, and playing in the Champions League. In the unique case of 32-year-old retired footballer Jamie Bosio, the dream held up and down the football pyramid became a reality,  all while becoming a secondary school teacher at the same time.

Hailing from Gibraltar, located on the Southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula with a population of around 30,000 people within an area of just over 2 square miles and just the one football stadium, Bosio’s story is both inspirational and in a genre of its own.

Having grown up with football being at the centre of his life, like many Gibraltarians, Bosio played football on the Rock, where everyone played at the same ground – the Victoria Stadium.

The astroturf pitch would see an array of fixtures take place throughout the weeks, starting from youth games all the way to the seniors. 2013 saw football on the Rock strike the jackpot after being accepted as the 54th member of UEFA, which was followed by acceptance into FIFA in 2016.

UEFA acceptance saw Gibraltar eligible to compete in the European Championship Qualifiers for the 2016 tournament, bringing them their competitive debut as a national side in 2014.

Playing Career

2014 saw Bosio old enough to receive a call up to the national side, with hard work paying dividends, after receiving his first call up that year.

“My first call up was the Republic of Ireland in October 2014, I didn’t play in that one,” he said.

Patience proved a virtue however for the young aspiring sociology teacher, who made his debut against Croatia, who not too long after, became World Cup finalists in 2018.

“I just got back from University, so I think I was about 21 or 22. That was June 2016, where I got my first cap, against Croatia in a friendly game away.

“Within a week later I got my first competitive cap off the bench against Germany, within a week I’d played against Croatia and Germany.

“At the time I was doing my student-teacher programme in Gibraltar before I went over (to the UK) to do my PGC, so I was back in Gibraltar at the time after that, but I was kind of doing student-teaching, so I knew at that point that it (teaching) was going to be my main career.”

Reflecting on his time representing the national side, with 12 caps to his name against strong and established nations, the memories are fond.

“Out of the 12 caps, the best teams I played against were probably Germany, my debut  against Croatia, I played twice against Belgium. Poland, Portugal and Greece too, so pretty good teams.

“We always looked forward to the experience, we weren’t as well prepared as we would have liked to be, especially in those first qualifiers, because those first qualifiers with the experience being something very new.

“But obviously the preparation, you look at how prepared the national team was 10 years ago to play those matches, we were miles, miles, miles and years behind the other countries we were playing against in terms of preparation obviously.

“And then as well you are talking about skillset too, you are talking about a population of 30,000 people where you’ve got a pool of maybe 200 or so players to choose from and that’s about it.”

As well as wearing his country’s colours, Bosio also featured in both the UEFA Champions League and Europa league.

His Europa League appearance against FC Vaduz of Lichtenstein saw him become Gibraltar’s first captain in such a competition, cementing his name in Gibraltar footballing history.

“I didn’t win many trophies as a player, I played quite a lot of games, played some decent high profile games, I also represented Gibraltar as a club-side in the Europa League.”

Playing for Lincoln Red Imps, he further recorded his name in Gibraltar’s record books by featuring in the first Gibraltarian side to make it to the second round of the Champions League Qualifying stage.

Most part-time footballers play up and down the football pyramid in the various steps, like Bosio, who played in Step 7 for Ashford United, followed by a stint at Canterbury City. Most however, do not have to play against the world’s elite on the international stage.

Being a teacher whilst preparing to play against coveted players like Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze, and Lukas Podolski proved demanding.

Reflecting on this, Bosio said: “Those games were like we’d go, travel away, the stadiums would be full like 50,000 people and you’d kind of almost leave your job and for that week that we were training and we were playing, you were like an international professional footballer, that was like how it felt.”

Demands of the game

Such a demanding experience however has its negatives, which Bosio was no stranger to.

Being in tiny Gibraltar with minimal footballing facilities, Bosio would have to cross the Border between the Rock and Spain just to train in between his full-time job.

“I’d go to work, I’d come home for a little bit, by 6 o’clock I’d be getting in the car with one of my teammates, heading over to Castellar in Spain, training, coming back at around 10.30/11 o’clock at night, have dinner, go to bed and get up in the morning and go to work.

“It’s very different to a footballer that gets up when they want to, to go to train and then has the rest of the day to do whatever they need to do such as injury prevention and all of that kind of stuff.

“A lot of players I think that were in my situation, they feel a lot of burnout.

“The fact that maybe the hours that I could be resting, because again the job of a footballer and training in that way is demanding, so the hours that I would be resting, I couldn’t, because I’d be at work.

“The fact that we had to train at late hours after working a full day of work and then getting up again at 7.30 in the morning to go to work again and do it all, was difficult and quite strenuous.

“So I think that is something that might have contributed to some of the injuries that I eventually picked up.”

Going through an ACL injury and the recovery involved for what is a major setback for any footballer, proved to be a “big issue” for Bosio.

“The years of playing for teams like Gibraltar United and Europa, to combine that with a full time job which was a teaching job was very, very difficult because there aren’t the facilities, there isn’t the rehab, there isn’t the knowledge of strength and conditioning, there weren’t the resources really to look after the players properly.”

Post-playing career

After a short return to the pitch, Bosio saw domestic cup success in Gibraltar alongside playing futsal and coaching with Bavaria FCC, a club he was instrumental in creating during his time as a student.

“I played about a season and a half (with Bavaria) and then I did my ACL again in the same knee. 

“So after the second ACL injury I didn’t operate, because the doctor advised I shouldn’t be going back to playing football because I had it twice and it would have a toll on my body.

“I kind of fell out of love with 11-a-side and that’s why I kind of put all my focus into futsal.

“We had Bavaria already set up and I thought well I can just carry on coaching there.

“And then I had the opportunity to take on the women’s national futsal squad, and then from there they’ve also given me the U19’s futsal national squad

“So a lot of opportunities for me have opened up since my injury, and obviously I have put a lot of time into it and I have been relatively successful with how things have been going so far.”

Success as a coach has come for Bosio in the way of managing 3 different futsal sides, with accolades of winning the Futsal Rock Cup and finishing in the top 4.

The touchline proves just as demanding, with Bosio spending much of his time away from the classroom in the dugout.

“It’s a lot to balance, I literally coach Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then on the weekend, one of the days, I’ll have my league game with Bavaria .”

With teaching and coaching still ongoing for Bosio, the sky’s the limit, while he looks back on a unique playing career with 12 international caps, numerous squad call ups, european appearances and domestic success.