Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Former Malta stalwart Joe Cilia passes away
Aug 5, 2017
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Joe Cilia (right) with Malta FA President Norman Darmanin Demajo. Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
Joe Cilia (right) with Malta FA President Norman Darmanin Demajo. Photo: Joe Borg/MFA

  • Joe Cilia (right) with Malta FA President Norman Darmanin Demajo. Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
  • The Malta team before the historic match against Austria in 1957. Joe Cilia is in back row, second from right.
  • Joe Cilia (far right)
  • Joe Cilia and Lolly Borg (left)

Joe Cilia, regarded as one of the best Maltese players of his generation, has passed away, aged 79.



The robust defender was a member of the Malta team that played against Austria at the Empire Stadium in the country’s first official international match in 1957.

 

Cilia was among the surviving players who were honoured by the Malta Football Association during a reception held on February 24 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of that landmark occasion for Maltese football. He went on to make 10 appearances for Malta, captaining the team once in the friendly match against Italy’s C selection in 1964.

 

After beginning his career with Rabat Ajax, his hometown club, Cilia moved to Valletta FC in 1956. With the Citizens, Cilia not only enhanced his reputation as one of the country’s leading players but also won an array of honours.

 

It says all about Cilia’s talent that he won the coveted MFA Footballer of the Year award twice during his career, in seasons 1957/58 and 1963/64.

 

Cilia also had a spell as player-coach of Sydney-based Melita Eagles after moving to Australia, where he also turned out for Sutherland and Corinthians. He eventually returned to Malta, rejoining Valletta in 1972.

 

Cilia also enjoyed a successful coaching career, taking charge of a host of clubs, including Rabat Ajax and Valletta who both paid tribute to their former talisman on their websites and Facebook pages. Under Cilia's guidance, Rabat Ajax won two top-flight titles.

 

The Malta Football Association is saddened by the passing of one of the stalwarts of the Maltese game and sends its profound condolences to the family of Joe Cilia.
 

Cilia's funeral will take place on Tuesday at St Paul's Parish Church, Rabat. Mass starts at 4 p.m.

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