Joe Cilia

Joseph "Joe" Cilia (22 October 1937 – 5 August 2017) was a Maltese professional football player and manager.

Joe Cilia
Personal information
Date of birth (1937-10-22)22 October 1937
Place of birth Malta
Date of death 5 August 2017(2017-08-05) (aged 79)
Place of death Msida, Malta
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1955–1956 Rabat Ajax F.C.
1956–1964 Valletta F.C.
1971–1973 Valletta F.C.
National team
1957–1962 Malta 9 (0)
Teams managed
1983–1985 Valletta F.C.
1985–1986 Rabat Ajax F.C.
1989–1992 Hibernians F.C.
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Career

Joe Cilia's natural talent and passion as a footballer was evident from when he first kicked a ball. He quickly climbed the ranks and by the time he was nineteen, in 1957 he made his debut for the Malta national football team.[1] and he was the youngest player in the now legendary team which played Malta's first international against mighty Austria. He became an automatic choice for the Malta XI, and Malta captain from 1959 to 1964. He was always captain for all the other teams he played with and is now considered to be one of the greatest centre-halves Malta has ever witnessed. His consistency, courage, composure and cunning made him much loved by his supporters, and respected by the opposition. With Valletta F.C., he won all the titles on offer, to end a period dominated by Sliema and Floriana. He played blinders against foreign teams, including Manchester United (0-1), helping Malta XI gain very good results. He was the very first player to win the coveted Footballer of the Year twice. He also held records including playing 49 competitive games in one season and another for playing every game except one, for nine consecutive seasons between 1955 and 1964. Between 1964 and 1971 he emigrated to Australia where he played for Corinthians and Melita FC, with whom he won the Footballer of the Year again. On returning to Malta, he played another two seasons with Valletta F.C., and played against Internazionale FC. He exchanged shirts with the famous Boninsegna. He finally hung up his boots in 1976. Having performed the role of player-coach since 1961, he could now dedicate more time exclusively to coaching. He coached most of the top-flight teams at the time, where he won the League Championship first with Valletta F.C., 1983 until 1985 and then all the honours available with his first love Rabat Ajax F.C., for two consecutive and historic seasons. In 1989-1992 he worked with Hibernians F.C.. He also coached the Malta U/21 gaining two wins out of three games. His only regret was that he was never given the opportunity to coach the Malta Senior National Team. He won the Westin Malta Football Award in 2003, and "Gieh ir-Rabat" in 2004, in appreciation of his 50 years of continuous contribution to his only passion, which is football. Cilia died on 5 August 2017, aged 79.[2]

References

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