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Agius helps City end 11-year title drought

Two generations of City stalwarts – Charlie Agius and his son Gilbert. Picture was taken in 1978 when Gilbert was the team’s mascot.Two generations of City stalwarts – Charlie Agius and his son Gilbert. Picture was taken in 1978 when Gilbert was the team’s mascot.

Charlie Agius was born in Valletta on December 1, 1951.

A natural striker, he was deadly in front of goal. His speed and agility caused problems to many defenders who, to their dismay, found that he could score goals at the least opportunity.

Agius started kicking a ball around the open spaces of the city outskirts and later on at the Baviera Primary and St Joseph’s Technical School.

At the age of13, he was picked by Valletta Vanguards to play in the MFA Minors League.

This was a good breeding ground for ambitious youngsters who wanted to make a name for themselves in football. He fitted well in the team and in 1965-66 he helped the Vanguards win the minors league.

In the meantime, an agreement was reached between the Vanguards and Valletta FC to transfer their most promising players to the senior club.

Agius was one of five youngsters selected and at the age of 16, he joined Valletta FC minors who, in those days, were coached by Eddie Xuereb.

In his first season, Agius won another minors championship and in 1968-69, he was loaned to Żejtun Corinthians. This was an experience that helped the youngster to get used to the rigours of league football.

The following season Agius returned to Valletta. He made his first-team debut on November 23, 1969 in the league game against Gżira United which the Citizens won 2-0 with goals from Frankie Falzon and Eddie Vella.

This was the start of a career which spanned over 12 seasons. Agius played 127 league matches and scored 33 goals for the Citizens.

During this period, Agius won the championship in 1974, 1978 and 1980. He also won the FA Trophy in 1975, 1977 and 1978, the Independence Cup in 1975 and 1980 and the Sons of Malta Cup in 1979.

Agius also made 12 appearances in European competitions, scoring a goal in the 5-3 Champions Cup defeat to Grasshoppers of Switzerland.

The late sixties and early seventies were lean years for Valletta FC.

After the euphoria of the early sixties, when the Citizens dominated Maltese football, the club were stuck in a rut from which it did not recover until 1973-74 when the Whites won the championship after an 11-year drought.

That was a great season for Agius who finished as the Whites’ top scorer with six goals.

Great comeback

Another great moment for him came in 1977-78 when Valletta reached the FA Trophy final and faced eternal rivals Floriana.

At first, things did not go right for Valletta and 12 minutes from the end, the Greens were coasting home with a 2-0 lead. Then, in a magical 10 minutes, the Citizens turned the result 3-2 in their favour and Agius had the satisfaction of scoring two of their goals.

Another highlight for Agius came in 1979 when Valletta played against Leeds United at Elland Road in the UEFA Cup.

Leeds had already beaten Valletta 3-0 at the Empire Stadium.

The English club were elated by this score and when their manager Jimmy Adamson was interviewed after the game, he boasted that Valletta would be massacred in England.

When, after only a minute from the start of the game, Alan Curtis opened the scoring, it seemed that Adamson’s predictions were going to come true. Valletta, however, refused to surrender.

They fought bravely and at the end were only beaten 3-0. Their brave display was such that, at the end of the game, they were given a standing ovation by the Leeds fans.

Agius had to plough a lone furrow up front in that game but he gave his heart out for the team and could be seen time and again filling the gaps in the Whites’ midfield as Leeds increased their efforts to get more goals.

A final note which one must surely mention is the fact that Agius is the father of another City legend, Gilbert Agius, winner of all honours the Maltese game could offer in the famous white shirt of Valletta. Gilbert Agius is the current head coach of Valletta.

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