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Updated: Tony Bezzina was a father-figure for the whole Paola community – Abela

Jesmond Abela (right) with Hibernians president Anthony Bezzina (centre) during a Premier League match. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Skipper Andrei Agius describes him as a second father

Tributes poured in yesterday following the news of the passing of long-time Hibernians president Tony Bezzina, who died after a long illness, aged 72.

Bezzina was a huge figure in Maltese football as he had been at the helm of Hibernians FC for 43 years, following his election in 1978, making him the longest-serving president in the BOV Premier League.

Under his charge, Hibernians have enjoyed a lot of success in Maltese football as the Paolites managed to win all the major honours in domestic football as well as enjoying some memorable nights in European football.

Under his presidency, Hibernians lifted nine league titles, seven FA Trophies and the Super Cup three times.

“The Executive Committee members of the Hibernians FC wish to express their deepest regret at the passing away of our long-serving and beloved President Anthony Bezzina,” the club said in a statement.

“Tony Bezzina, passed away peacefully today at the age of 72 years. For the past 43 years, he served as President of the club. Tony’s dedication towards his club and Maltese football did not go unnoticed and in 2019, the State awarded him ‘Ġieħ ir-Repubblika’ for his contribution to local football.

“The people of Paola, together with Maltese football have lost a great man. A man of kindness and generosity, a man whose life was defined by his devotion to his family and Hibernians FC.

Rest in Peace Pres,

You will be dearly missed from all of the Hibernians F.C. family and all Paola…

Posted by Andrei Agius on Monday, March 15, 2021

“The club wishes to convey its condolences to his wife Maria, his children, Juliana and Ranier, as well as his family and friends. Our condolences are shared by all the people of Paola, who were always in his heart.”

Jesmond Abela, Hibernians FC team manager, told the Times of Malta, that Hibernians FC and all the Paola community had lost a father figure.

“Tony Bezzina was a father-figure in spectrums of the society in Paola,” Abela explained.

“From the football club, to the band club and the parish church, Tony was a father figure for everyone in the community of Paola.

“He was a great gentleman with a heart of gold. He did a lot of work in the town without much publicity but that is how Tony Bezzina was.”

Abela said that the death of Bezzina has marked the end of an era in Maltese football and his void will be hard to fill.

“The death of Tony Bezzina marks the end of an era in Maltese football,” Abela said.

The Malta FA is deeply saddened by the news that Tony Bezzina, the President of Premier League club Hibernians F.C., has…

Posted by Malta Football Association – 1900 on Monday, March 15, 2021

“When he started to lead Hibernians FC he was competing against some great presidents in Maltese football, such as Joe Caruana Curran, of Valletta FC, Victor Tedesco, of Ħamrun Spartans, Sliema Wanderers’ Robert Arrigo, and Anthony Grech Sant, of Floriana FC.

“He was one of the best administrators in the game and I will remain eternally grateful to him as he was the one who pushed me to be part of the club almost 30 years ago.

“Hibernians have managed to remain competitive for such a long time only thanks to Tony’s Bezzina’s excellent administration. He was unique in the way he led the club as he was capable of changing the club’s structure according to the times.

“Two months ago I lost my father, but today it’s another dark day for me as Tony Bezzina was, without a doubt, my mentor.”

Hibernians skipper Andrei Agius also paid tribute to his club’s supremo.

“You will be dearly missed from all of the Hibernians FC family and all Paola residents.

“Personally I will never find the right words to thank you enough for everything you did for me.

“I will miss our long chats at your office, your wise words when needed, your weekly sms to check and make sure that everything is ok with the team and all the other small things that for me where always important.

“I promise I will keep on giving everything till the last minute I will be able to play for your club and to transfer the same values that you transferred me the first day when I entered your office to all the kids I will coach at the Hibernians Football Academy – Loyalty Passion Hunger Humbleness.

“Its a sad day for all of us especially for kids like me that were raised in Paola, you’re more than just a normal president of a club, you are a second father to all Paola residents, you managed to always unite when others divided and always led by example.

“Until we meet again for our next chat… Legends Die but they are Never Forgotten and I am more than sure of that.”

MFA president tribute

On his part, Malta FA president Bjorn Vassallo posted on his twitter account a picture of a packed Hibs Stadium with the club’s fans and wrote the following message to Bezzina.

“This was your favourite venue. Your football home. You left a football legacy without heralding fanfare. In the way of doing things. In your style of winning the argument. A gentleman from every aspect.

“Sur Tony thank you from all the football community.

“Forever missed.”

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