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Borg Bonaci stands out in goal for Valletta

Goalkeeper Vincent Borg Bonaci was a pillar of the Valletta side in the sixties and early seventies.

Goalkeeper Vincent Borg Bonaci was a pillar of the Valletta side in the sixties and early seventies.

August 19, 2006 was a sad day for the supporters of Valletta FC as former City and Malta international goalkeeper Vincent Borg Bonaci had passed away at the age of 62.

Many fans remembered Borg Bonaci as a volatile and spectacular goalkeeper from the sixties and early seventies.

Those were not the best days for the Citizens.

The club didn’t win many honours but Borg Bonaci stood out as a loyal clubman who never gave up.

He was the kind of goalkeeper who defied the odds, a one-man shield who, on many occasions, stood alone between defeat and victory.

It is strange, perhaps, that a small country like Malta would produce so many fine goalkeepers.

In the history of the game on our islands, there have been a host of keepers who could have, if the opportunity had presented itself, made a name for themselves in international football.

Starting with the legendary keepers Johnnie Perrin, Joe Nicholl and Emmanuel Azzopardi, one could go on to compile an impressive list of fine goalkeepers.

Who was the best?

My choice would fall on Wenzu Gabaretta and Freddie Mizzi but the list is so long and extensive that one could argue in favour of half-a-dozen other great goalkeepers.

Borg Bonaci was surely one of them.

He was born in Valletta on December 11, 1943 and started playing football with Valletta in the minors and Under-21 league.

Borg Bonaci was also understudy to Irish international Tommy Taylor who guarded the City goal in the club’s hey-days between 1958 and 1962.

It would seem that with the return of Taylor to his native country, Borg Bonaci would finally win his place in the City’s first team. However, in 1962 he joined St George’s with whom he stayed for two seasons.

His stay in Cospicua was on the whole uneventful. He played only three first-team games for the Saints and, not happy to spend his time on the substitutes bench, he decided to return to his grassroots.

He made his debut for the Citizens on May 5, 1964 against Rabat Ajax.

At the time the Citizens were in the process of building a new team. Soon, he secured his place as the team’s number one goalkeeper.

Borg Bonaci played 97 competitive matches for Valletta but, surprisingly, he only won two Cassar Cup medals for the team.

Between 1969 and 1972, he was picked to play for the full Malta side on eight occasions, including the European Championship qualifier against England at Wembley Stadium in 1971.

For sure, 1969 was the best year in Borg Bonaci’s career. He was a serious contender for the MFA Footballer of the Year award but placed third in the national contest.

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