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'Small in size but big in potential' - Joe Griffiths

Gejtu Sacco

Gejtu Sacco

Joe Griffiths once described Gejtu Sacco as a tearing, non-stop bundle of energy.

The former Malta coach said Il-Gagà, as Sacco was commonly known in local football circles, was small in size but big in potential; a loyal clubman to the core with a heart bigger than himself.

Coming as it did from such a great judge of football, this was praise indeed.

Sacco may have been a small man but he thrilled the crowds with his never-say-die spirit. He always seemed to inspire the others to further efforts no matter if the team was winning or losing.

Sacco started playing football before the war with junior teams from the Sliema and Gzira area. This was before he joined Sliema Rangers at a very tender age in 1938 with whom he played Division One B football.

During this period, amateur players could play for two different teams if they chose to, as long as they were in different divisions. Sacco took this opportunity to turn out for Melita in the lower divisions.

Although still young and inexperienced he was singled out for a bright future in football but then the war intervened and all competitive football was suspended for the duration.

Sacco joined the Royal Malta Artillery becoming a prominent member of the Regiment's famous football team. By the end of 1943, when the war started to recede from our shores, the Coast Guards RMA started to catch the eye with their first-class performances against British Services teams in the United Service League.

In this sphere of tough and skilful football, there were many British players who joined professional clubs on their return to the UK.

Sacco was knocked about like a tennis ball by the tough servicemen but he never gave up. Indeed, some may even say that he gave as much as he took. Football was played that way in those days and Sacco seemed to take it all in his stride.

In 1944-45 he joined Beland City, of Zejtun, in the Third Division but towards the end of the season he played guest for Floriana in the FA Trophy. Sacco helped the Greens to win the first post-war edition of the competition.

In 1945-46 he joined Floriana on a permanent basis but he did not stay too long because the next season he donned the famous blue shirt of Sliema Wanderers.

Sacco was one of Service players of his era. He was part of the Army XI team which won the Victory Cup in 1946-47, and the RMA team, Cassar Cup winners in 1947-48.

In the Victory Cup final he scored one of the goals with which the Army beat the MFA XI 2-1. In the Cassar Cup he netted two of the three goals as the RMA had the better of Hamrun Spartans in the final.

In 1949, Sacco was selected to play for the MFA XI against Rapid Vienna in the Christmas Tourney. It was the first of three call-ups he had with the national team in his career. The other two games he played in the red jersey were against Red Star, in 1950, and Innsbruck, in 1952.

In 1948, Sacco was moved from the wing to inside forward, a position he filled with distinction.

Later on, however, he was moved back to the half-back line where his speed and energy could be better exploited.

Sacco stayed with Sliema up to 1955, winning the championship once in 1953-54, three times the FA Trophy and four times the Scicluna Cup before he was 'bitten' by the immigration bug.

He left the island and the game he loved so much but his memory lingered on for many years after.

Many are the old-timers who remember this 'dynamo' whose non-stop running would have made him a big name in modern football.

For the record - Honours won by Gejtu Sacco

Championship

Sliema Wanderers

1953-54

FA Trophy

Floriana FC
Sliema Wanderers

1944-45
1947-48, 1950-51, 1951-52

Cassar Cup

RMA

1947-48

Scicluna Cup

Sliema Wanderers

1949-50, 1950-51, 1953-54, 1954-55

Victory Cup

Army

1946-47

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