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Emanuel Calleja

Emanuel Calleja

It was the late Mr Emanuel Calleja, hard-working Secretary of Valletta F.C., who was instrumental in persuading, against heavy odds, the M.F.A. Council to affiliate the local Football Body with F.I.F.A and U.E.F.A. so that the Malta National Team, and Maltese Clubs can compete in the various competitions organized by F.I.F.A. and U.E.F.A.

The late-lamented Emanuel Calleja, foresighted then, that Maltese Clubs, in particular, have a lot to gain by participating in European competitive soccer. He argued that local soccer followers will have the opportunity of seeing the cream of European Clubs playing against Maltese Clubs. The visits of illustrious Clubs, such as Manchester United, Celtics, Juventus, Sporting Lisbon, Athletico Madrid, Inter, Ferencvaros, Leeds United, and Barcelona (to mention a few) was only made possible because we are competing in these competitions. Otherwise, the chances of seeing such formidable Clubs in action at the National Stadium would have been remote.

When Mr Calleja originated his idea, he was highly criticised and dubbed as excessive pretentious, but today, all participating Clubs agree that the venture is a success – moneywise. Besides participating in Europe, apart from showing the Maltese Flag, the local players have an incentive and an ambition to fulfil that of playing in European competitive soccer.

Valletta vs Dukla Valletta FC`s baptism in European football was in season 1963/64, against Czechoslovakia giants Dukla Praha in the Champions League.

Valletta vs Dukla

1963-64 – Dukla Praha

Through the years, Valletta FC were polled against several high-profile European clubs such as Italian giants Juventus FC and Internazionale, former English champions Leeds UTD, their Scottish counterpart Glasgow Rangers, Porto and Dinamo Moscow, to mention just a few.

The results obtained by Valletta in European competitions were not always so positive. Disastrous results such as 8-0 defeats against Grasshoppers of Switzerland and Honved of Hungary as well as a 10-0 thrashing against Glasgow Rangers were amongst the worst defeats experienced. However, amidst all this, Valletta also achieved positive results such as minimal 1-0 defeats to Porto and Internazionale and victories against HJK Helsinki and Barry Town.