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Zammit's versatility stands out during successful City career

Frankie Zammit

Frankie Zammit

For those youngsters who don't remember or are unaware of the way football was played in the 1960's, I should perhaps explain the role of the old inside-forward.

In a nutshell, the inside-forward was what nowadays we call an attacking midfielder. There were two kinds of inside-forwards - the schemers and the goal-scoring inside-forwards but there were some who combined both roles.

Frankie Zammit was the best Maltese goal-scoring inside-forward of his era. His record speaks for itself. Fast and strong, he had a terrific shot with either foot. He also had the ability to suddenly change direction and turn around an opponent before rifling his deadly shot.

Zammit was born in Valletta on October 27, 1935. It is surprising that he did not start his football career with Valletta but with Melita FC in 1953. However, he did very well at Melita and on January 16, 1954, he made his First Division debut for the Amateurs against Hibernians.

It was then that he began to attract the attention of the leading clubs. Valletta were the first to show interest and when, in 1954-55, Melita were demoted to Second Division, the Citizens secured his signature.

Having signed for Valletta, Zammit made his debut for his home team on October 15, 1953 in a 2-0 victory over Ħamrun Spartans.

Zammit had a good game and that season, he played 11 from a total of 14 matches. In those days, he was classified as a forward but as he grew older, he moved back to defence where his skills, experience and versatility turned him into one of the best defenders of his era.

Zammit was a very effective attacking inside-forward but wing-half was perhaps his best position. He was first tried in that role in 1959 during the Olympic tournament where his quick tackling and clever positional play stood out as his best qualities. He played his first match in the national colours in March 1960 in a 0-0 draw against Tunisia, going on to earn seven more caps.

In the first half of his career, Zammit had no equals as a goalscorer. He played in every position in the forward line and was considered to be a good replacement for Salvinu Schembri who had defected to Sliema Wanderers. Zammit seemed to have the innate ability to read a situation and to score vital goals when most needed.

During his career, Zammit scored four goals in a match on five occasions. The first time was on April 12, 1959 in the 9-2 league victory against Ħamrun Spartans. The second time was on November 12, 1960 in the league against St George's.

On April 16, 1961 Zammit netted another poker in the FA Trophy quarter-final tie against Marsa and he repeated the feat in the FA Trophy against St Patrick's on May 27, 1962 and in 1964-65 in the 9-0 league victory over Rabat FC.

Few players in the history of the game can boast of such an achievement. Zammit won nine major honours for Valletta including the league championship in 1958-59, 1959-60, and 1962-63 and the FA Trophy in 1960-61 and 1963-64. He was also top scorer in the 1959-60 league with 12 goals and club top scorer four times between 1956 and 1965.

Zammit continued to play up to the 1967-68 season when he finally decided to call it a day on November 5, 1967 after the league game against arch-rivals Floriana.

His absence was a huge loss for Valletta who, for a time, badly missed his commanding presence on the pitch. However, he has not been forgotten by the City faithful and his name always crops up every time that the discussion turns round to that golden period of Maltese football.

After his retirement, Zammit embarked on another successful career in coaching but that really is another story.

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