Gibraltar has been accepted as a full member of UEFA, European football's governing body. The application was approved on Friday on a majority vote at the organisation's congress in London, with no votes against and no abstentions.
Gibraltar’s acceptance as the 54 member of UEFA was reflected by the emotional response of delegates from other nations following the vote. A majority of the 53 nations congratulated the GFA committee on the historical day.
There had been opposition from Spain but the Gibraltar FA won a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport obliging UEFA to accept the British overseas territory as a member.
Gareth Latin, president of the Gibraltar Football Association, said in a statement: This is a momentous occasion for football in Gibraltar. UEFA membership means that we can begin the next chapter of Gibraltarian football.
At last we'll be able to show the whole of Europe that we can match the best with football of a high standard and entertaining style. It will open up a whole new world of opportunities for our highly skilled young footballers.
This is one of our greatest ever sporting moments and, of course, we'd like to thank everyone who helped with our bid and all those who voted for us. We couldn't have made it without you.
Allen Bula, head coach of Gibraltar's national side, would relish the chance to play the country's neighbours. I always said I would love to play Spain. I would play them any day, anywhere, any time, Bula told the BBC's World Football programme earlier this year.
When I took over the national team I had one purpose - to show Europe and the world that what Spain was saying about us, that we were only in it for political reasons and that we didn't have any quality, was a load of rubbish.
They have not let us progress, we've never given up and now we are ready to show Europe what we are made of.
UEFA president Michel Platini confirmed that Gibraltar would be kept apart from Spain in qualifying for Euro 2016. Platini said: Gibraltar will not play qualifying matches with Spain - we also have this situation with Armenia and Azerbaijan”.
The territory tried to join UEFA in 2007 but the bid was controversially rejected. Spain opposed the move and threatened to boycott both club and international competitions if it succeeded.
Gibraltar becomes the smallest UEFA member in terms of population, behind San Marino (just over 32,000), Liechtenstein (approximately 37,000) and the Faroe Islands (just under 50,000).