Emmanuel Calleja was born on the 25th of December 1917 and died on the 16th of November 1968 at the age of 51, after watching Valletta FC draw 2 – 2 against B’Kara in a turbulent match.
He was one of the founders of Valletta FC together with Joe ‘Chief’ Salinos, Guzi ‘Tat-typewriters’ Muscat and Nenu ‘Dindu’ Caruana in 1943, after many years of having two Valletta teams – Valletta Prestons and Valletta St.Paul’s who had been competing against each other in the MFA first division for many years.
Emmanuel Calleja served for many years as Secretary of the club and was an authority on MFA rules. He also served as an MFA council member and president of Valletta FC until his death.
It was on the initiative of the committee of Valletta FC that Maltese clubs participated in European Competitions and it was Manwel Calleja who insisted that MFA should apply to become a FIFA member so that we could participate.
In fact, the Maltese football community was very wary of this bold move and many tried to ridicule this motion. However Maltese teams still participate till today’s date.
Another feather in his cap was the introduction of the ‘Substitutes’ rule during league matches. This is what the Times of Malta correspondent wrote in ‘Focus on League Soccer’ on the 28th of January 1992 – ‘We were the first to put in the matter of substitution in Europe. I think in the early sixties.
The proposal was made by the late Mr Emmanuel Calleja former secretary of Valletta FC’.
During his time as a committee member, Valletta FC won every honour available. One of his darkest moments during his career was when the club of Valletta FC including players and officials were suspended by the MFA in the season 1965/66 and demoted them to the 4th Division and all the committee members were suspended for life. However this was later rescinded, but it was a mortal blow for Emmanuel Calleja and his committee members.
Emmanuel Calleja was a truly ‘Belti’ and formed part of the committee of the Valletta Waterpolo Club and Kings Own Band Club to mention a few. He was a popular figure in the Maltese Soccer.
Community and this was evidenced when people from all over Malta turned up for his funeral.
It is worth closing this write-up by quoting Alfred Mizzi in his book ‘Storja tal-Valletta FC’ ‘Fl-aħħar nett Emmanuel Calleja kien bniedem li fl-amministazjoni tal-football ftit jew xejn dehru bħalu…..
Għalkemm belti fil veru sens tal-kelma, bla dubju, fejn kien jidħol il-ħaqq u s-sewwa ma kellux kuluri, kien integral, ġentlom u mparzjali’.
This is how every Valletta FC supporter still remembers Emmanuel Calleja.
(This information was supplied to vallettafc.net by Chris Calleja)