Saturday, 8 October 2016

CCFC Where Are They Now #3 - Michael Mifsud

 Last week marked 9 years since "that" night in Manchester which every Coventry City fan over the age of about 12 will have some sort of memory of. To this day it remains my favourite ever away day, or favourite football match I've ever been to for that matter, you know what, I'm going to say it. The best day of my life. So I thought that the best way to celebrate the occasion was to look at the man who ran the show that night, Michael Mifsud.

 He started his footballing career in his home country of Malta where he broke through the Silemma Wanderers academy as a 16-year old in 1997. He quickly looked like something special considering what Malta are used to and this showed in his 4 years at Silemma with 60 goals in 80 games. In 1999 he even managed to bag a trial with Manchester United, obviously nothing came of it though but this did nothing to his confidence as he kept banging them in in the Maltese Premier League.

  Being in hot goalscoring form it wasn't long before his first call up for Malta, and he made his debut against Albania on the 10th of February 2000. This also alerted clubs abroad to his talent, so in the summer of 2001 he signed for Kaiserslauten. He made a good impression in the B team in the German third tier but the Bundesliga first team seemed like it was a step too far as in 21 appearances he only scored twice. This led to his release in January 2005.

 To try and get first team football again he came back to Silemma Wanderers in the January on a deal until the end of the 04/05 season. Once again he showed Malta his talent by bagging 8 in 12 to help Wanderers to the Premier League title. His next move was to Lillestrom in Norway when his Silemma contract expired.

 In the 2006 season, he got 11 goals in 19 matches leaving him as Lillestrom's top goalscorer and was voted the best foreign player in the Norweigan Premier League. Mifsud made it clear that he wanted a move to one of the big countries in Europe, so he was angered when Lillestrom turned down an offer from the Coventry City in Summer 2006.

 However his contract expired at the end of that year so given his desire to move he declined a new contract offer and instead was snapped up by Micky Adams and the Sky Blues on January 10th 2007 on a two-and-a-half-year deal. Adams was sacked just 2 days after the signing of Mifsud and replaced by Iain Dowie.

 He scored a couple before the end of 06/07 against Plymouth and Barnsley respectively, then again on the first day of the 07/08 season against Barnsley. His goal against Sheffield Wednesday won goal of the season for us. We were top of the league when "that" draw came out. Manchester United away, against the Malta interntationals boyhood club. (Glory Supporting at its finest)

 We all know the story of what happened next, he ran the Champions of England ragged and had Gerard Pique in his pocket for 90 minutes. His 2 goals at Old Trafford that night led to one Spanish paper referring to him as 'Il Messi Di Malta', which translates to 'The Messi of Malta'. He really continued to excel and had 15 goals in all competitions by the turn of the year, he was close to 20 by the end of the season.

  You may say this is unrelated, I think it has something to do with it. But I saw the Oasis film Supersonic last week, (Bare with me) and Liam Gallagher said that it was nice they ended at their show at Knebworth in 1995 because it all went downhill afterwards and that they could have done a sequel about the fall of Oasis. I think this is the same with Mifsud but obviously not on the same scale, I wish I could end here when he's just had a great season with Coventry and the best experience of his life against Manchester United, but I can't.

  We were in financial trouble so tried to offload some assets, Mifsud being one of them. We accepted an undisclosed bid from Bristol City, he was packed up and ready to leave until right at the last minute when he decided he wanted more money from the South West club. Long story short, Gary Johnson told him where to go and the transfer was called off.

 After this he never really made it back properly into the Coventry side so was subsequently loaned out to Barnsley in February 2009. He only got 2 goals here so when June 2009 came Chris Coleman announced we would be letting him go. After this he spent a few months unattached to a club yet still made it into the Malta squad every time, this just proves how good he was compared to anything they'd seen in that country.

  Eventually in 2010 he returned to Malta for Valetta, where he somewhat reignited his areer with 7 in 7 but still left at the end of the 09/10 season. Once again he was left without a club for a number of months despite there being interest from America, England and of course Malta amongst other places. Qormi in Malta were the club that eventually got him to put pen to paper back in 2011. It was another brief but definitely prolific spell with 7 goals in 5 games.

 Upon the end of his deal he returned to Valetta on a four year deal. He got 30 goals in just under 60 games in his 2 years which is something you definitely don't turn your nose up at. I say 2 years because in June 2013 he left to move abroad, to Melbourne Heart in Australia more specifically. At the age of 32 he was beginning to win down in his career, and this showed with his football, scoring just the one goal in his season down under.

  In 2014 he returned to where it all began with Silemma Wanderers in Malta, as I've mentioned his age hindered him at this point. He only got 5 in 32, which is nothing compared to what he did in his 4 years between 97 and 01. By this point Wikipedia got bored talking about his career but what I can tell you is that remarkably he is still playing. For none other than Valetta in his third spell there. He still has 2 years left on his contract which should take him to 2018, should he still be playing by that point he will be 37 years of age.

 Throughout this career he managed to accumulate 40 goals in 113 matches for Malta. MALTA. Imagine having better than a 1 in 3 ratio for a country with a population of 450,000 which until 1974 was part of the British empire. Depending on where you're reading this, coincidentally England vs Malta is tonight and Mifsud might make an appearance at Wembley so keep an eye out watching the match.

 The moral of the story here is, whilst you should always reach for the stars, you should also remember to keep your head and not get too big for your boots. Normal match reports resume next week with Charlton away. Thanks for reading.

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