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Charlie Muscat, Il-Baħri

Charlie Muscat holds the MFA Footballer of the Year award.

Charlie Muscat holds the MFA Footballer of the Year award.

Charlie Muscat was born on January 13, 1963. A product of Birżebbuġa FC, he had to overcome the difficulties encountered by most of the players who start their career with a small club.

Muscat made his debut for Birżebbuġa in 1979 against Attard FC in the Third Division. That season he only played twice for the first XI but the following year, Muscat gained a permanent place in the team.

In 1980-81, Birżebbuġa were relegated and Muscat decided to seek a new challenge with Żurrieq FC.

It was a good time for this talented youngster to join Żurrieq. The Reds had just obtained promotion to the Premier Division and were about to embark upon the brightest period in the club's history.

Muscat fitted well in the set-up at Żurrieq. He made his Premier League debut on October 31, 1981 in the 4-1 victory over Ħamrun Spartans.

From then on, things moved fast for Muscat. By the end of the season, he had already played 12 league games for his new club and scored his first three Premier League goals.

1983-84 was by far the best season of Muscat's career. He finished the season as the league's top scorer, a position he shared with Georgi Ivanov, of Ħamrun Spartans.

His four goals in the FA Trophy carried Żurrieq to the cup final for the first time in the club's history. Unfortunately, Żurrieq lost 1-0 to Ħamrun Spartans in the final but Muscat was rewarded for his excellent performances with the most prestigious individual award in Maltese football.

Muscat was named MFA Footballer of the Year. His was really a case of honesty and hard work triumphing over skill.

Muscat was never a brilliant footballer but he more than made up for this with his all-out endeavour, honesty, and loyalty to his club.

He was also a prolific goalscorer and despite not setting any records, his goals helped to transform Żurrieq FC from a mediocre lower division club into one of the top five Maltese teams of the eighties.

Muscat made his international debut on May 23, 1984 in the World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. In all, he played five times in the national colours and scored two goals.

In 1984-85, Muscat enjoyed another excellent season, helping Żurrieq to win the FA Trophy for the first time in their history. Unfortunately, a serious injury forced him to miss the final.

The injury jinx kept him out for virtually two seasons. He again missed playing in the FA Trophy final, which Żurrieq lost 0-2 against Rabat. In 1987-88, Muscat made a partial recovery from his injury.

He regained his place in the team and his five league goals that season showed that he was on his way to recovering his old scoring touch.

Towards the end of the season, however, he had a relapse of the injury that forced him out of football for almost two years.

Comeback

Muscat's Premier League career was definitely over but, as they say, you cannot keep an old horse down. In 1990-91, he made a successful comeback with St Patrick FC in the Second Division with whom he won the Division Two and Three Cup final.

Between 1991 and 1993, he spent two seasons with Birżebbuġa St Peter's in the Third Division but in 1993-94, he returned to St Patrick and helped the team to win the Division One Championship and promotion to the Premier League.

By now, Muscat was past his prime but he continued to play with St Peter's up to 1999.

In an age when the word amateur has become something of a taboo, Charlie Muscat remained an amateur player throughout his career.

Muscat continued to play his favourite game with a Birżebbuġa team in the IASC competitions well into his forties.

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