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Malta football legend Sammy Nicholl dies, aged 88

Malta football legend Sammy Nicholl passed away on Monday night at the age of 88.

Nicholl is regarded as one of the best football players that has ever graced the Maltese football pitches, winning several honours during his playing career before becoming a popular football pundit when he hung up his boots.

A clever inside-forward, Sammy could make goals as well as score them.

He could also play on the wing, delivering perfect crosses for his centre-forward with uncanny precision. However, he was most effective in the thick of the battle where a well-placed shot or a timely sprint nearly always ended in disaster for the opposition.

Nicholl started his football career with Żebbuġ Rangers but will be mostly remembered for the long and distinguished career he had with Sliema Wanderers where he donned the Blues shirt 135 times between 1952 and 1964, scoring 80 goals.

With the Wanderers Nicholl won five league titles, three FA Trophies, the Cassar Cup three times and the Scicluna Cup on six occasions.

A prolific goalscorer, Nicholl went on to finish as the leading scorer in the league twice, in season 1955-56 when he netted 15 goals and the following season when he found the net 14 times.

Nicholl also formed part of the Malta national team and was picked to play for the national team in the first-ever international match against Austria, which the latter won 3-2 at the Empire Stadium.

The goal he scored late in that match has since gone down with letters of gold in the annals of Maltese football history.

Nicholl went on to collect seven caps for Malta, scoring one goal.

He also formed part of the Malta XI, making 15 appearances and netted three goals.

Football ran through the blood of the Nicholl family, as Sammy was the nephew of another Maltese football legend, Tony, who is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of Maltese football.

Sammy and Tony only managed to play a few games together in the Sliema Wanderers forward line before the latter decided to move back to centre-half in the final years of his career.

At the end of his career, Nicholl became a popular football pundit.

For several years, he was a regular contributor on the Times of Malta with his weekly articles that analysed the Maltese Premier League.

He also appeared on several football programmes where he gave an insight on the development of the game.

Tributes started to flow as soon as the news of Sammy Nicholl was announced.

Sliema Wanderers issued a statement to pay tribute to their former player.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sammy Nicholl last night at the age of 88 years. Funeral arrangements will be communicated at a later hour.

“From all of us at Sliema Wanderers we would like to offer our deepest condolences to his family.

“Rest in eternal Peace, dear Sammy.”

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