The Floriana FC edition of the mid-1960s and early 1970s was a star-studded team full of personalities whose names have since been etched in letters of gold in the history of the club.
Who can ever forget players of the calibre of Louis Arpa, Willie Vassallo, Anton Camilleri and Raymond Xuereb?
There were other players, however, who although not in the same class played a big part in the successes of the club.
One such player was Charlie Galea who, unfortunately, died last week at the age of 69.
Galea soon caught the eye with his vigour and whole-hearted football while playing for Floriana Primary School’s football team in the Boys League which, in those days, was played in Gżira.
This football league was the breeding ground of many fine footballers of the 1950s and 1960s.
However, it was not easy in those days for a youngster to get into the Floriana minors’ team. Therefore, in 1959 Galea joined Vittoriosa Stars.
He stayed for only one season before the Floriana FC committee recognised his potential and lured him back to their fold.
Galea soon became a regular for the minors team and by 1964 he was ready to break into the first team.
However, Galea missed his chance when he decided to get married and seek a new life in Australia.
It was certainly not his intention to go to ‘down under’ to play football but on his arrival he was approached by the Malta United Soccer club with whom he played in the Adelaide league.
Galea seemed to have a fine future ahead of him but he missed his family and after only six months he was back in Malta.
On his return, Galea immediately re-joined Floriana. This time he was better prepared to play top-class football and in no time at all he was in the first team. He made his league debut on April 11, 1965 against Gżira United.
It was not easy for Galea to keep his place in the team but once he settled down he established himself as the team’s right-back.
In the ten seasons he had with Floriana he played 79 league matches, an average of nearly eight games out of 14 per season.
During his career, Galea won the league championship three times; the first in 1967-68 and the others in 1969-70 and 1972-73.
He also won the FA Trophy three times, the Independence Cup three times, the Sons of Malta Cup twice and the Christmas Cup twice.
Galea played eight matches in European competitions, scoring the goal which earned Floriana a prestigious 1-1 draw against Rei-pas Lahti, of Finland, in the 1968 Champions Cup.
By the end of the 1971-72 season, Galea was reaching the end of his career.
He was still valid but Floriana cast their eyes on George Ciantar, of Luqa St Andrew’s, as his rep-lacement and he went to Luqa on a part-exchange deal.
He played for Luqa for only one season before he retired at the end of the 1972-73 season.
In 1977, he took up coaching, leading Qrendi in a successful bid to win promotion to the Third Division.
Later on he joined the Floriana nursery coaching staff but in 1996 he gave up the game completely.
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