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War cuts short promising career

St George`s forward Nenu Scerri (front row, first on left) with the Malta FA XI before the Christmas Tourney match against Rigas, of Latvia, played on January 8, 1939.

St George`s forward Nenu Scerri (front row, first on left) with the Malta FA XI before the Christmas Tourney match against Rigas, of Latvia, played on January 8, 1939.

Nenu Scerri is not one of the best known Maltese players. Yet, this old-time St George's stalwart was one of the best forwards of his era. His career was short and, when compared with that of others, rather uneventful. But this was only because the war cut short what looked a very promising career.

St George's signed Scerri in September 1938 from Melita Sports Club, of Alexandria, Egypt.

Like Wenzu Gabaretta before him, Scerri was introduced to the game and trained by Arthur Dale, the Games Master of the British Boys School of Alexandria.

Scerri was fast, possessed excellent ball control and was very technical in his approach work.

Under the guidance of Dale, he soon developed into a first-class footballer and before long he was established as one of the best players in the Egyptian First Division.

Scerri came from a family of footballers. His brother Emmanuel and father Joseph played for Sliema. His uncle, George, also played football and at one time all four Scerris figured for the Melita Sports Club forward line where it is reported they delighted the Egyptian fans by their excellent displays of football.

Scerri was an instant success in Malta. He played for only two full seasons for St George's before his career was disrupted by the Second World War. However, he did enough in that short period to warrant his inclusion in this column.

In 1938-39 his goals took St George's to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy where they were beaten by the eventual winners of the competition, Melita FC.

The following season, the Saints finished on equal points in the league with Sliema Wanderers but once again they fell at the last hurdle when the Blues beat them 2-1 in the championship decider.

St George's made up for that disappointment by beating the RAF 1-0 in the Christmas Cup final.

Scerri was rewarded for an excellent season by receiving a call-up to the national team who were preparing for their encounter with Rigas, of Latvia. In all, Scerri played four times for the MFA XI - a significant number when one considers the shortness of his career.

With the outbreak of the war most competitions were stopped. Football did not stop though and for a while, Scerri continued to turn out for St George's in prestigious friendly matches against Service teams strengthened with top-class British professionals.

St George's, however, like most of the other clubs suspended their activities for the duration of the war and Scerri, a professional footballer, found himself stranded.

He played some football for the RMA but although after the war he made a brief appearance for St George's in the Malta Cup, he retired soon after.

Scerri was one of many fine Maltese footballers whose career was cut short by the war before he had the chance to fulfil his potential. However, from what he managed to achieve in his two competitive seasons, he did enough to ensure that his name will never be forgotten.

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