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‘I could not turn my back on the Valletta FC fans’ plea to return’

Jesmond Zerafa is back at Valletta FC as the club's technical director.

Jesmond Zerafa said that the Valletta FC fans were the main reason why he decided to return to Maltese football and fill the role of technical director at the Premier League club.

Valletta are passing through one of the most difficult Premier League seasons in recent years and are at serious risk of losing their top-flight status for the first time in their club history.

Last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Birkirkara has left the Citizens just one point outside of the relegation zone and they face a crucial clash with relegation rivals Mosta this weekend.

Zerafa enjoys a long association with Valletta FC as after a highly successful playing career which saw him win every major domestic honour in Maltese football, he went into management and was handed the reins of his hometown club twice, winning the Premier League title in 2011 and 2012, before a short stint in 2020.

“I could not turn down the plea of the Valletta FC fans,” Zerafa told the Times of Malta.

“In the past weeks, many people approached me and asked me to get back into the club and give a helping hand in such a difficult season. And to be honest, it was hard to turn my back on Valletta FC as it is my hometown club for whom I always had strong feelings.

“I have been out of football for several years, but from the outside of this business, I took notice of many things and learnt more things. To be honest, I never thought that I could return to Valletta but when I saw the feedback from the club’s fans I had to accept.

“Valletta FC have given me a lot throughout my career. I am the person that I am today because of this club.”

Zerafa has made it clear that he did not return to Valletta FC to take the job of current first-team coach Enzo Potenza but his main intention is to try and help the team come through this difficult campaign.

“I returned to Valletta FC to give a helping hand to first-team coach Enzo Potenza, who is also a good friend of mine,” Zerafa said.

“When I was negotiating with the Valletta FC committee I made it clear that I would not return to the club if they parted ways with the coach. Enzo Potenza is a key figure at our club and he is happy to be working with me.

Coach support

“One has to remember that Enzo was named a Valletta FC coach one month into the season and found the team already formed so he had to work with what he found. But I am ready to give him the help he needs for the benefit of the club.”

Asked what was in his opinion, Valletta’s biggest problem this season, Zerafa said that the club is used to seeing the team fighting for honours every year and now that the side is facing a relegation battle it is something which hasn’t been accepted by the Valletta FC family.

“The real problem is that everyone at the club is panicking in this difficult situation,” Zerafa said.

“The club is used to fighting for major honours and now that we are facing a relegation battle we are not accepting this situation.

“It’s important now that we put behind us all the things that happened this season, assume our responsibilities and believe that we came to help the team come out of this difficult situation.”

The newly-appointed Valletta FC Technical Director said that he is not afraid to be coming back to the club under so much pressure and has rallied the fans to support the team in such a difficult situation.

“The fact that I am taking this job under so much pressure is not something that worries me as I believe that it’s good to face such challenges and is an opportunity to learn from it and become a better person,” Zerafa said.

“The most important thing is that every individual at the club must roll up his sleeves and work hard to help the club come out of this situation stronger.

“For me, the Valletta FC supporters will play a key role if we are to avoid relegation. We need their support from now till the end of the season.

“That is why I have asked the club’s supporters club to meet on Thursday so I can speak with them about the situation and highlight the importance of their presence and more importantly their support
from now till the end of the season.”

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