MFA President hails Andrei Agius as role model for young players

Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo described Andrei Agius as one of the greatest defenders ever in Maltese football and said that what the Hibernians defender achieved throughout his career was only thanks to his constant commitment to achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Vassallo revealed that after discussing with national coach Devis Mangia, the association will be honouring Agius with one final game for the national team in the friendly match against Azerbaijan on Friday March 25.

“Players like Andrei Agius can still offer a lot to the game and the association opens its doors for such people. Unfortunately, the association used to be a bit detached from people who lived football throughout their careers. Considering the philosophy adopted by the association through Devis Mangia, the professional contribution, people like Andrei could offer to the game, is something more than others could as they lived the life of professional footballers and have all the knowledge and expertise to sustain the future of the game with regards to planning and strategy.”

Photos: Copyright Mark Zammit Cordina/ Malta FA

“This is not a goodbye but a bridge for people, like Andrei, who could offer something back to the game. What we are trying to build now, will have to be delivered by people who are already involved in the game. We already managed to bring back a number of such people to the game. “

“Football now has a strategy where we know what we want to achieve. We are glad to have people like Andrei to work closely with the MFA Technical Centre so that on a long-term basis we reach our objectives – a development pathway for those who have the talent who would go and challenge their talents at a higher level.”

Agius thanked Bjorn Vassallo as being one of two people who helped him to get the chance to move to Italy at the age of seventeen.

“Every beginning has an end and now is the time to retire from the national team. The decision was not taken overnight. After a particular year and a half, I accepted the transition. We, as players, know about the different roles we need to take throughout our career. When you are young, you are full of enthusiasm and want to prove yourself. When I established myself, I always shouldered the responsibility, also as a captain of the national team. I was asked to be a leader and transmit values and thoughts as part of the current administration’s vision to improve the level of the national team.”

“I am happy with what I have achieved. I never thought I would achieve all this, considering the competition and the several good players within the national team. In the same way, that players like John Buttigieg and Silvio Vella motivated me to emulate them, I hope that what I did over the past sixteen years inspires younger players to take football more seriously and get the stimulus to achieve more.”

Agius thanked his family, all coaches including Dusan Fitzel, John Buttigieg who employed him first as a central defender, Pietro Ghedin, Tom Saintfiet and Ray Farrugia who entrusted him as captain and with whom he was given more responsibility. He also thanked former national team manager Ivan Vella, describing him as a point of reference since when he was seventeen, and his lifestyle therapist Liana, who he said helped him understand that this was only the beginning of something new. He also thanked the media for their support and to whom he showed always great respect.

Agius said that he plans to extend his contract with Hibernians for another year and revealed that as from next season, he will also be in charge of the grassroots sector with the club..

“I still have a lot to learn but I am ambitious and know what I want to achieve. There is no limit to what one can achieve.”

With regards to how he saw the national team develop throughout the years, Andrei Agius said that over the sixteen years there was improvement but at times. the rate of growth was slower than that of other countries. He saw there were lots of good things in the past two years, adding that with the association’s vision, the gap would be closed.

Agius pointed out the England vs Malta game at Wembley Stadium as one to remember. 

“Such games change you, even as a person. After such games, you would come out with a different mindset. We need to be more ambitious as living in a small country is no excuse.”