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My old friend Zauri, Joseph Portelli’s vision lured me to Ħamrun Spartans, says Marchetti

Former Italy goalkeeper Federico Marchetti said that his friendship with Ħamrun Spartans coach Luciano Zauri, the vision of club president Joseph Porteli and the opportunity of playing Champions League football lured him to the Malta champions.

Last summer, the 40-year-old was on the brink of hanging up his boots after his former club Spezia lost the play-out with Verona and were relegated to Serie B.

However, a couple of dinners with his old friend Luciano Zauri all but changed everything for the former Lazio goalkeeper who took the opportunity of starting a new experience in Maltese football at Ħamrun Spartans.

“Everything started a week or ten days before the play-out between Spezia and Verona. Coaching Ħamrun Spartans was my old friend Luciano Zauri with whom I had a bit lost contact,” Marchetti told tuttomercatoweb.

“We met for a couple of dinners in Rome and I sent him a good luck mesage for his new experience and Luciano, joked or may be not, asked me what I was going to do. It all depended on how the play-off would go. If Spezia avoided relegation I had another year on my contract with the Italian Serie A side, but if they were relegated I would have stopped as I didn’t want to play in the Serie B.

“Luciano asked me to give him a helping hand and told me to go Malta and see the structures of the club and have a chat with the club officials.

“Spezia is relegated and I go there and the fact that Ħamrun Spartans play in the Champions League qualifiers was a huge stimulus for me.”

Marchetti said that the vision of Ħamrun Spartans president Joseph Portelli was another key factor in his move.

“The club owner, Joseph Portelli, is a very influential and innovative person,” he said.

“He has a great vision, a young president who would like to lead the first Maltese team in the group stages of a UEFA club competition. This kind of vision has instilled a lot of enthusiasm in me, this ambition is not very common today. All this convinced me to join Ħamrun Spartans.”

Marchetti admits that life as a football player in Malta is less hectic in Italy as players do not have to move to one place to another.

“In Malta, there are no closed training camps, no transfers from one place to another and that was important for me to accept to come and play here in Malta. But even the fact that we play matches of a certain level was something I looked forward to,” Marchetti said.

“I wanted to make a new experience and improve my English. I played for several years in the Serie A and other categories and I am now in my 24th year of my professional career.

“This was an experience that was missing from my CV. It may not be the English Premier League or the Spanish Primera Liga and unfortunately, it’s not followed much by international media, and it’s a pity, but the people here are very passionate towards their club.

“This year the team is a bit behind when compared to last year but all the teams here in Malta have strengthened their ranks.

“We had the target of winning the Super Cup, which we did, and now we are focused on giving a good push in the championship so that we successfully defend our status as Malta champions.”

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