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Camilleri secures Bogliasco deal

Steve Camilleri - to play in Italian A1 League after signing for Rari Nantes Bogliasco.

Steve Camilleri - to play in Italian A1 League after signing for Rari Nantes Bogliasco.

ASA Player of the Year Steve Camilleri will be playing in the Italian first division during the 2008/2009 season following an agreement just reached between his club, local champions Neptunes Vodafone, and Rari Nantes Bogliasco.

Under recently amended regulations by the Federazione Italiana Nuoto, Italian clubs will only be allowed to register two foreign players in 2008/2009 and Bogliasco have signed up Camilleri as one of them.

The move abroad was almost inevitable according to Matthew Bonello, the Neptunes president who was delighted that the young starlet will be garnering more experience in Italy.

"Neptunes are extremely proud that Steve has been granted this opportunity to play in possibly the most competititve league in waterpolo," Bonello said.

"It is a great achievement for him, especially considering he is not yet 21 years old. It is also a deserved reward for his dedication to the game, his talent and skills which clearly continued to improve and develop during the few months he spent at Partizan Belgrade where he trained and played in the most professional of set-ups."

In Serbia Camilleri left a very good impression.

"The feedback we had from their coach and officials was extremely positive," Bonello said. "Though Partizan would have liked to hold on to him, they couldn't do so, due to limitations regarding the number of foreign players."

Vladomir Vujasinovic, considered among the best players in the world and a member of Neptunes' championship-winning squad last year, was instrumental in taking Camilleri to Partizan. He will be returning to Belgrade after a glorious seven-year spell with European champions Pro Recco.

Vujasinovic continued to follow Camilleri's progress and it was also thanks to a recommendation from him that Bogliasco made their first enquiry a few weeks ago.

"I don't know if Steve should be more pleased about the fact that he is going to fulfil his ambition of becoming a professional and rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the world or that somebody of Vladomir's standing is putting his reputation on the line for him," Bonello said.

Bogliasco's coaching staff, led by Massimo Di Crescenzo, were also in touch with Neptunes coach Sergio Afric to get a more detailed appraisal of Camilleri's qualities. Neptunes and Bogliasco then agreed the terms and conditions of the contract.

Bonello said: "We have seen to it that certain clauses safeguarding the interests of Neptunes are included in the contract and that Steve will return to play for Neptunes once the Italian league ends, usually around the middle of May.

"We will have to do without him in next year's Winter League but this is obviously a small price to pay in view of such a huge opportunity."

The National League in Malta gets underway tomorrow. Last month, Neptunes won the Winter League title for the seventh time.

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