Senglea’s Grech rewarded for persistence after Malta call-up
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Senglea’s Grech rewarded for persistence after Malta call-up

Leighton Grech in action for Senglea Athletic against St Andrews. Photo: Stephen Gatt

Leighton Grech in action for Senglea Athletic against St Andrews. Photo: Stephen Gatt

If there is a cliché that has always been proved correct time and again in football is that persistency always pays off.

The Beautiful Game is defined by moments which can shape up individual careers as it has been the case of Leighton Grech of Senglea Athletic.

The 28-year-old winger is one of the novelties in the 25-man provisional squad named by Malta coach Ray Farrugia ahead of this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Spain.

Grech has been a regular feature for his country in the youth categories, namely in the U-17, U-19 and also U-21.

Nonetheless, the Vittoriosa-born player is yet to collect his first senior cap with the senior national team, although he has already been called up once, by Pietro Ghedin, without gracing the field - in March 2014, a 2-0 defeat against Albania.

Last summer, Grech joined Senglea following spells at Floriana in the top-flight and Żebbug Rangers in Division One in 2017-18.

At the Cottonera outfit, the pacey winger has become a key member of the first-team squad with his numerous assists in 19 league appearances. No doubt, he is giving a timely reminder of why there had been so much talk on his talent when he was younger.

Nonetheless, this call-up was still unexpected as the majority of the players called up by coach Farrugia form either part of Malta’s best clubs or are based abroad.

“Obviously, I am very happy that I have been called up to join the national team and I feel that this is already a massive step for me,” Grech told the Times of Malta.

“In the coming days, I will try to do my best in the training sessions in order to make the final cut for the double appointment.”

The injury of Crawley Town’s Luke Gambin could open the door for Grech to play a crucial part in Malta’s offensive system in the upcoming matches against the Faroe Islands and Spain given his pace and vision when in possession.

Grech feels that he has now matured and that the move to Senglea came at the right time for him as a player and as a person as well.

“Well, I will be 29 next week, so I feel that automatically I am becoming more mature both as a player and as a person,” Grech explained.

“When I was at Qormi, I feel that I played some of the

best football alongside players like Jorginho and Alfred

Effiong, where I also managed to get one national team call-up too.

“What maybe is different for me at Senglea is that I am enjoying playing football after some years plagued with injuries and that has injected a lot of confidence in me.”

Senglea coach Vincenzo Potenza has been a parental figure football-wise as he retains Grech as a key component of his team since taking charge. 

“When Vincenzo Potenza came in, he immediately showed huge belief in me and even though I was a bit sceptical about it, he has managed to push me forward and I am really happy to be playing under his guidance,” Grech said.

Big club move

Throughout his career, Grech has been part of some important dressing rooms such as Hibernians (25 games), Birkirkara (36) and Floriana (14).

Yet, he feels that he has always played his best football with lesser-quoted clubs.

“I am grateful to Senglea for giving me the chance to play top-flight football again and although I would be flattered if any other top clubs come look for me, I don’t see why I should leave this club as long as we remain competitive,” he said.

“Until a season ago, I was still struggling for playing time and I had to move down into Division One for regular football.

“Previously, I was at Vittoriosa Stars as well after returning on the field following some long-term injuries.

“Therefore I would not have imagined that my career would lead me at this in a short time. But

“I’m determined to make the most of the opportunities that are coming

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