Growing up with a Gunner: Football FanCast meets Jaydon Gibbs

Football FanCast have been hitting the interviews big-time recently, so when the opportunity came along to get a unique, brotherly insight into the mind of Arsenal and England defender Kieran Gibbs, while also checking up on our old friends Aldershot Town in the Vanarama Conference division, we just couldn’t resist.

Introducing twin brother, best friend and housemate, Jaydon. Just like Kieran, he came through the academies at Wimbledon and Arsenal, and following a brief stint away from the beautiful game, is now in his second season with The Shots.

Being on the phone to a famous footballer’s twin brother is a rather unusual situation, so we thought it best to address the elephant in the room. Hi Jaydon. We’re going to start with some quick-fire questions to get the mind-juices flowing, in a segment Football FanCast likes to call ‘Brother Gibb vs Brother Gibb’.

So, who was born first?

Me

Who did better in school?

Kieran

Who’s the bigger mummy’s boy?

Kieran

Who can do the most kick-ups?

Erm…Kieran

Who wins more at FIFA 15?

Me

Who would win in an arm wrestle?

Me

How about a straight-up street fight? No holds barred.

I’d have to go me – I’m not sure if my brother’s got that kill-streak in him

And finally but most importantly – who’s the longest in the shower?

Very similar. I’m going to play safe and say we’re very twin-like.

How diplomatic of you, Jaydon. You and Kieran came through the Wimbledon academy together until they folded in 2004. Did you support them as kids?

No, we’re actually life-long Arsenal fans. But I’ve always had a soft spot for Wimbledon – AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons that is – just because we spent so much time there and that’s where we learnt the trade. Then obviously, we both went to Arsenal and from there Kieran kind of escalated but I kind of took my foot off the gas.

So when you two eventually went your separate ways, was it difficult watching Kieran take the limelight?

There was never any jealousy there; it was more a disappointment in myself to be honest. Once you step out of the game it’s quite difficult to get back in and I’ve just been a bit lazy in terms of effort. But when you see your brother doing so well you kind of want a taste and that’s what got me back into football really.

Did it ever get in the way or threaten your relationship as brothers?

No, never. Not once have I ever stopped wanting Kieran to do well, even when he got his first England cap, or when he made his first appearance in the Champions League, or when he won the FA Cup. I just wanted him to keep doing better and better. That’s when I had to look at myself and decided to get as much out of myself as I can.

And you’ve been there for the difficult times too, like when Kieran’s been injured for long periods?

Obviously, he’s struggled with injures quite badly. He’s quite weak-minded when it comes to things like that – particularly when he has to come off. He’s got too much pride and he doesn’t want to show his weakness.

He went through quite a few tough times and it all started when he broke his metatarsal, but another tough time was when he slipped in the Champions League against Manchester United – it took him ages to bounce back from that. He had to come off at half-time because he was such a wreck. It took him a while to realise this is just football and it’s full of ups and downs – but hopefully there’s been more ups than downs.

He’s been in fantastic form over the last few seasons – after being overshadowed, especially in terms of the England team, do you think Kieran’s now getting the recognition he deserves?

I think he’s been very underrated for a couple of years but he has struggled with injuries. Also, Colin Lewin at Arsenal is cousins with Gary Lewin, who works with England, and I think he knew that Kieran’s body wasn’t ready to play league games as well as internationals and he needed that rest. It’s not until now where Kieran knows his own body and how to prepare himself properly for games that he can do both, play three games in a week and bounce back, and he’s all the better for it.

Both of you started out as more attacking players – did you ever envisage your brother becoming one of Europe’s top left backs?

Well, all us full-backs are failed wingers really aren’t we? It’s the same with failed strikers that can’t hack it up front so they get used for a bit of pace at the back. Kieran was just as scared as me when I moved to full-back, it’s a completely different mindset. We’d win three-nil and I’d feel like I’d had a poor game because I hadn’t scored; I’ve got to look at things like clean sheets now instead of goals.

But once Kieran got his mindset right and adjusted his game, he quickly turned himself one of England’s top left-backs.

There must be something in the blood. Like Kieran, Jaydon’s proved a huge success at Aldershot after dropping into defence, albeit on the opposite flank. Was that a conscious decision Jaydon?

Not really. We had a few injuries in our team and I just kind of just put my hand up and said ‘I’d do a job at right-back for a game’ and 50-odd games later I’m still there.

Do you see that as your long-term role now?

Yeah I’ve adapted to it. I played one game at right midfield last season and I felt like a fish out of water so I think I’ve made right-back my own now.

Did you ask Kieran for any advice at playing full-back instead of on the wing?

Well, I tend to watch as much football as I can so I know Kieran’s game inside out. I could probably tell you it better than him! So I just kind of take that on board. But Kieran comes down here as often as he can and throws in the odd piece of advice.

Last season, Aldershot were hit with a ten-point deduction after dropping out of the Football League and going into administration in summer 2013, but the current campaign has started off on a far more positive note. Do you think you can make the playoffs this year?

Over the last ten games we’ve been doing really well. It looked like playoffs were out of our reach but we’ve had a decent run and if we’d got the result on Saturday we’d only be a couple of points off right now. So if we have a strong December there’s no reason we can’t be looking at the play-offs going into the New Year and I’m confident with the team we’ve got and the character of the boys that we can do that.

So there’s no nervous looks over the shoulder at the relegation zone?

We know as a team we’re too good for relegation. Last year was really tough with the ten-point deduction and trying to get out that mindset. Even though you play well and beat a top team, you still look at the league table and think ‘minus five points’ – the season’s already over. Last year was a tough time but we’re starting this season afresh – it’s like starting with plus ten points in our eyes so we’ve got to take that into our games and realise we’re not a relegation team, we’re play-off contenders.

Some of our readers may not be too familiar with your squad. Is there anyone we should be looking out for? Someone who could make the jump to higher leagues?

One that’s really impressed me this season is Jordan Roberts, our left midfielder. He’s got an England C cap now so he’s really come along from being in and out of the team last year and this season he’s really cemented that position as his own. Also you’ve got Emmanuel Oyeleke who’s on loan from Brentford – our centre-mid who’s really decent. Bret Williams as well, he was our top scorer in the league last year with 27 goals. I’m amazed he hasn’t already nicked a move to be honest because the only two boys above him last year, Lee Gregory and Andre Gray, have gone to Millwall and Brentford in the Championship and I think Bret could do a lot in the leagues above too. But I can’t really wish him away because we need him in the team!

Aldershot are famed for their fantastic support. Do you feel a real connection with the fanbase?

Definitely, they were amazing last year in spite of us having minus ten points. They’ve never set unrealistic targets for us and even when we haven’t played well they’ve kept on cheering – they give us more credit than we deserve sometimes. They’re just amazing like that. When you win things like a local derby against Portsmouth it repays them, it pleases you to see them so happy.

There aren’t too many twins in world football, so with the festive season almost upon us, what’s Christmas like round the Gibbs household?

Well there’s twelve family members and they all come up a few days before Christmas. It’s a bit of a madhouse really – imagine the scene from Home Alone! My family are nutters; my mum’s a twin, my nan’s a twin, so it’s just a whole house of twins to be honest.

Are you allowed to talk football around the dinner table?

Yeah, my mum doesn’t like it – she gets bored of hearing about football, but there never really goes a day without someone mentioning it. Over Christmas we just try to have some nice family time but there’s always games on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day so we don’t get that much time off.

And finally, the killer question; has a referee ever mistaken you for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

No! I can’t believe people still remember that. But we played that day, Arsenal’s was a 12.45 kick-off and we played at three o’clock, and the Braintree fans were chanting ‘Are you Oxlade in disguise?’ at me for the whole game. It’s all on my Instagram and Twitter – I still get a bit of abuse about it.

But I actually think Chambo looks a lot more like my brother than I do. When we’re all out you can really tell – especially their mannerisms and the way they live their home lives.

Perhaps we should be a little kinder to Andre Marriner then! Thanks Jaydon, you’ve been a delight.

Vanarama are proud sponsors of the Football Conference. Visit vanarama.co.uk for great deals on van leasing.

 


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