When I put on the Valletta shirt, I forget all the problems Denni Published on: 08-01-2013

Amid the usual talk about Valletta’s forays into the transfer market, Denni, one of their established foreign players, served up a timely reminder of his capabilities in Saturday’s 4-1 win over title rivals Hibernians.

Coming from a series of negative results, Valletta needed their top players to step up to the plate and Denni certainly heeded the call.

After giving Valletta a 35th-minute lead, Denni was brought down in the penalty area by Rodolfo Soares three minutes later and Ian Zammit made it 2-0 from the spot.

Two minutes into the second half, Denni tapped the ball home from Ryan Fenech’s pass to seal Valletta’s victory, one that lifted the Whites one point clear of the Paolites at the top of the table.

“Saturday’s win was really important,” Denni told The Times.

“It has helped to lift our morale as we were a bit down and unhappy about the results we had in previous games.”

The emphatic manner of Valletta’s victory came as a surprise as many anticipated a close encounter.

“The way Hibs were playing, I think many people probably thought that they were going to beat us easily but in games like this, you never know what will happen,” Denni said.

Like most of his team-mates, Denni struggled for form during Valletta’s barren spell but his man-of-the-match performance on Saturday raised hope among the City faithful that the Brazilian is getting back to his best.

Denni gave a frank reply when asked to rate his season so far.

“There’s something between the club and me that I’m not happy about,” Denni said.

“I’m a bit uncomfortable with the situation and this maybe had an effect on my performances.

“On Saturday, I was only 50 per cent fit. I couldn’t sprint properly because of my injury but I love the Valletta supporters and I wanted to play for them.

“When I put on the Valletta shirt, I forget all the problems because they (the fans) deserve the best.”

With just one win in eight league matches before Saturday’s game, Valletta attracted criticism for their failure to make their much-vaunted technical superiority count in matches against the likes of Rabat Ajax, who twice held the Citizens to a 1-1 draw, and Melita who pulled off a shock 2-1 win over the champions.

“I don’t think we were playing as bad as some people have suggested,” Denni replied to a question about Valletta’s poor run in November and December.

“Our performance against Hibs was not much different from previous outings but whereas most of the other teams we met before only defended against us, Hibs tried to attack and we managed to score four goals.

“I’m confident that we will improve, especially now that the coach can put some players in their proper positions.”

Denni’s optimism also stems from the addition of experienced players like Luke Dimech and Jason Lee Vandelannoite to Valletta’s squad.

“Jason and Luke Dimech have given us extra power that we didn’t have before,” Denni observed.

Valletta’s shaky run has done nothing to undermine Denni’s belief about their title chances.

“I have no doubts (about Valletta’s title chances),” Denni said.

“We went through a difficult period but I never doubted our ability to challenge for the title.

“It’s going to be more difficult than the last two years because there are more clubs who want to stop us but I’m very positive.

“Both Hibs and Birkirkara have a strong squad but we must wait until the Championship Pool to assess the situation. We have experienced players who know how to handle big games.

“Besides, we hope to have Michael Mifsud back soon because he’s one of those players who can make a difference.”

This season, there is a general perception that the level of the Premier League has dropped by a few notches but Denni, who has been playing in Malta since 2009, begs to differ.

“I don’t agree with those who say that the level of the Premier League is going down,” the former Tarxien Rainbows livewire said.

“It’s becoming more difficult year after year. I think the level has improved and I wish that more clubs are capable of challenging for the honours because that would make the competition more interesting and exciting for everyone... the players, fans, media, MFA and sponsors.”
Malta wish

In a previous interview with The Times, Denni, 30, had expressed his desire to play for Malta. The Brazilian knows that his prospects of obtaining Maltese citizenship are remote but he hasn’t given up hope.

“The Maltese national team is still a target for me,” Denni said. “If there’s the possibility to play for Malta, I’d certainly go for it.

“I want to keep playing well this season to help Valletta as well as to show that I could be useful to the national team.

“I’m keen to play for the national team because I love this country and I want to give something back to the Maltese people.

“I don’t want to do it for the money but, from a personal point-of-view, I’d love the challenge of having to fight to win a place in the national side.”

In the past few years, Denni is believed to have received a host of proposals from foreign clubs but Valletta have managed to hold on to him. So far in this January transfer window, Denni has not been linked with a move away from Valletta but he insisted that he hasn’t even considered that scenario.

“The way football is these days, there are always opportunities but to be honest, I haven’t considered other offers this time because the team was going through a rough spell,” Denni said.

“If I did, I’d have felt like I was betraying my team-mates and the people of Valletta, the way things were going for us on the pitch.”

Denni has another 18 months remaining on his contract with Valletta. Asked about his future beyond the current season, the Brazilian said: “I don’t know what will happen next season.

“I don’t know what the plans of the president (Victor Sciriha) are and what the coach (Mark Miller) thinks about me as this is his first season with us.

“The Valletta fans mean a lot to me, they make me feel like a top player. And I also have great respect for my team-mates.”

Source - Times of Malta