The City boy who turned Green
The legendary Floriana Ajax football team was made up of a rare breed of footballers.
They were in a class of their own, a group of players one is lucky to see in a life-time.
Everyone in that team was a star. Each was an important cog in a well-oiled machine which, when synchronised, worked wonders.
Of course, everyone had his favourite. Many picked Pullu Demanuele as the super-star of the team while others labelled Lolly Borg as the brain of the combination.
Borg was the man with the golden boot who could open up any defence with his telling passes. I won’t dispute this assessment but I feel that it would be right to say that he was helped in no small way by his inside-right partner, Benny Camilleri.
Born in Valletta on January 31, 1929, Camilleri learned his football at St Aloysius College. He was surely one of the best talents to emerge from the college.
It is strange, perhaps, that a boy from Valletta would throw his lot with City’s greatest rivals but he did, and he never regretted it.
A clever inside-right, he was the perfect partner for Borg in midfield. His neat dribbling and defence-splitting passes soon became the trademark of this remarkable footballer.
In 1949-50, he won the first of five League Championship medals with Floriana, four of them in a row.
This was surely the greatest period in the history of the club and Camilleri played an important part in the achievements.
Between 1947 and 1956 he played 75 league games for Floriana and scored 22 goals.
This figure would surely have been doubled if he was not forced to miss matches because of his studies. However, when he could not play for Floriana he kept himself fit by turning out for the University team in the Malta Sports Association league.
Apart from his five championships, Camilleri won the FA Trophy three times and two Cassar Cup medals in his short, but remarkable, career.
The honours won made him one of the most successful players of his era. He was also picked four times to play for the MFA XI against visiting foreign teams and twice for the MFA Under 20 XI.
Camilleri, who also played 22 matches for Floriana against foreign teams, retired from the game in 1956 to concentrate on his law career. However, he never abandoned the club and for many years he kept his link with Floriana by serving on the club’s committee.