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Marchetti keen to prolong his stay in Malta for another season

Federico Marchetti wants to prolong his career in Maltese football. Photo: Jonathan Borg

It may not have been part of his plans to play in the Maltese Premier League, but Federico Marchetti has enjoyed every minute of his experience with Ħamrun Spartans which culminated when he helped the team to win their tenth league title.

The former Italy goalkeeper and his family have fallen in love with Malta and are hoping he can prolong his stay on the island with another club, as his contract with Ħamrun Spartans comes to a close next month.

After over two decades of playing top-flight football in Italy, a move to the Maltese Premier League was never on the agenda but all this changed when his close friend and former team-mate Luciano Zauri, who had just been appointed as the new coach of Ħamrun Spartans, came calling last summer with an offer to join the Malta champions and the chance to play in the Champions League once again.

“A move to Maltese football was somewhat unexpected for me,” Marchetti told the Times of Malta.

“Last season, I was playing with Spezia who were set to face Verona in a Serie A relegation play-off when I texted Zauri to wish him well for his new adventure at Ħamrun Spartans. And I jokingly told him that if he needed anything I would be happy to help.

“Then we lost the Play-Out against Verona and Luciano was back in touch and told me he spoke about me with the Spartans’ top hierarchy who were keen to meet me. So I travelled for one day to meet them and the situation stalled a bit.

“Then the transfer gathered pace when Henry Bonello was injured with the national team and they were looking to bring in an experienced goalkeeper.

“The biggest factor behind my move was that I had never played outside Italy and I was interested in discovering a new football reality and enjoying a different experience. I knew that I was never going to find a level of football similar to that in the Italian Serie A but they are different realities and one cannot compare.

“However, during our six European matches our level of performance was not too far away from that of our opponents as we had some very good players.”

Season 2023-24 turned out to be a challenging one for the Spartans as they had to use all of their experience to fend off the strong challenge of Floriana and secure their tenth title.

“I never expected to finish so close to our rivals, particularly after the team had won the title by a 19-point margin the previous year,” Marchetti said.

“We were the strongest team and in Europe, we had done very well. But credit to Floriana who managed to stay with us throughout the campaign while Sliema Wanderers was the other team that remained in the top placings.

“In March, we had a good advantage over Floriana but failed to administer it well. The Cup defeat to Birkirkara was somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Losing on penalties was hard to fathom but it brought out the character of the team in such a crucial part of the season.

“We knew that we couldn’t afford to drop a single point to win the title and that set up a thrilling finale to the season that peaked in the ‘decider’ against Floriana. Playing in front of a packed stadium was very emotional for us and to win it in that manner made it more special.”

Asked about his views on Maltese football, Marchetti agreed with his former coach Luciano Zauri who in a similar interview with the Times of Malta had highlighted the lack of infrastructure as the biggest problem afflicting the ‘Beautiful Game’ here.

“There is a pressing need to improve football infrastructure,” the former Lazio goalkeeper said.

“There are many clubs that do not have a ground where to train. I think if the authorities build three or four new stadiums, with a capacity of around eight or ten thousand spectators, it would be more than enough.

“Having stadiums that are made for the needs of Maltese football would be a great pull for the fans to come to the stadium and enjoy themselves supporting their team.

“To have fans who are close to their players will guarantee a better atmosphere and can help to raise the level of agonism among players during matches.”

Football level

Marchetti said that the format of the Premier League was never the real problem to attract more people to watch Premier League matches and raise the level of football here.

“I believe that there is a good level of football talent here but there has to be a good effort to nurture talent by providing them a model that will increase their thirst to prove themselves and raise their level.

“At the end of the day, the key is to try and export players abroad as that is the only way to raise the level of football in Malta.”

Marchetti revealed that he and his family have fallen in love with Malta and are hoping to prolong his stay for another season going as far as to say he is open to moving to another club if the right offer arrives.

“I still have a lot of motivation to continue to play and I am open to evaluating the best offers,” Marchetti said.

“I am really keen on staying here in Malta for at least another season and I hope to have some interest in the short term.

“My family loves living in Malta as it’s a very beautiful country and most importantly the warmth of the people is something very difficult to find in other countries, including Italy.

“Should nothing will develop in Malta then I would consider offers in Italy.

“But I’d love to play another season here.”

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