Nicky, as he was affectionately called by his numerous admirers was probably the most important Valletta FC player of recent years. Born on August 26, 1966 at Pieta’ he started his football career in the Second Division in 1983 with Msida St Joseph’s. He made his first team debut with the Saints on January 8, 1983 in the 3-0 victory against Qormi FC.
Although only 17 years old, Saliba played like a veteran. The club’s officials were delighted with their budding new star. They realised right away that they had a winner on their hands. ‘Nicky’ kept his place in the team and by 1987 he had already played 41 times for the club, scoring 12 goals in the process.
Soon the big clubs started to notice and Hibs were the first to make inquiries. However, while Hibs pondered, Valletta acted. hey anticipated all others and made a successful bid for his transfer.
Hibs’ loss was Valletta’s gain because in a career spanning over 16 seasons Saliba won a total of major honours including the Footballer of the Year twice.
An attacking midfielder with an appetite for scoring important goals, Saliba led the City team through the greatest period in its history. Making his debut for Valletta on September 20, 1987 against Mosta he went on to play a fantastic 387 competitive matches for the club before he retired in at the end of the 2002-03 season.
In 1996-97 he led the Citizens to a record of five major honours and in 2000-01 Valletta went one better. The Lilywhites won the league championship for the fourth time in five consecutive seasons together with the five other major competitions. It was a fantastic achievement. For Saliba however, the season had mixed fortunes. After losing the euro cup competition, the FA Trophy final and the Centenary Cup final because of a serious injury he made a comeback in time to lead the club to victories in the league, the Super Five up and the Super cup.
Saliba represented his country in 68 full internationals and scored 4 goals. He also played four times for the Malta Under 21.
A pillar of strength and consistency, Saliba hardly ever missed a match between 1987 and 1999. Then luck deserted him and an injury sustained during that season kept nagging him up to the end of his career. Saliba retired at the end of season 2002-03 leaving behind him a void, which Valletta will find very difficult to bridge. ‘Nicky’ however, will never be forgotten by the City faithful. H remains forever a symbol of the greatest period in the history of football in the capital city.