Malta is hardly renowned for it’s football successes with the national side having won only four competitive matches. Ahead of Malta’s Euro 2016 qualifying match against the mighty Italy, here is a list of five Maltese players whose careers have been a bright light for Maltese football over the past three decades. Two of these are likely to start against Pirlo and co.
1. Michael Mifsud
By far Malta’s best player over the past decade, Mifsud has been Malta’s main attacking threat ever since the turn of the millennium. The list of clubs on the diminutive forward’s CV includes Kaiserslautern, Coventry City, Barnsley (where he joined Daniel Bogdanovic, another Maltese striker who also played for Blackpool), Lillestrom and, more recently, Melbourne City. That’s really quite impressive for the captain of the 155th ranked nation in the world where only a handful of players actually are full-time footballers.
With 39 goals to his name, Mifsud is comfortably Malta’s record top scorer and his most striking attribute is his lightening pace that has in the past embarrassed some of the more famed defenders of our time. Unfortunately, age has now taken its toll but his eye for goal and attacking instincts are still very much alive.
Mifsud has rejoined his boyhood club Sliema Wanderers during the close season thus effectively putting an end to his stay overseas. His career highlight was undoubtedly the two goals scored in Old Trafford as Coventry shocked Manchester United in 2007 during the Carling Cup. That day, the center backs for the Red Devils were Jonny Evans and Gerard Pique.
Nevertheless, many still feel that the “mosquito’s” career overseas could have delivered so much more had Mifsud not suffered injuries at inopportune moments and had he not agitated for a move away from Coventry during the summer of 2008. Still, his career is unrivaled in Malta and he deserves nothing but praise for the courage he showed early in his career in pursuing football as a full-time professional player, unlike his peers.
2. Andre Schembri
With Mifsud’s powers on the wane, Schembri is the obvious heir to the Sliema Wanderers striker. The 28-year-old is comfortable playing as a striker or attacking midfielder and has represented various clubs in Cyprus, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Greece with his current side being FSV Frankfurt where he is already showcasing some of his undoubted talent.
Despite not being a prolific goalscorer for the national side, Schembri scored both goals in the historic 2-1 victory against Hungary in 2006. Less than a year later, Schembri scored once more during another historic result for Malta – a 2-2 result against Turkey.