Joe Borg, Il-Pesu, was synonymous with Valletta FC.
Born in the capital on May 19, 1949, he kicked his first ball in the streets of the ‘Due Balli’ and the ditches around Valletta and Floriana.
Former Valletta and Malta half-back, Nenu Mackay, organised an Under-16 league for youth teams from the city area.
Borg was selected to play for Valletta Vanguards. That season, he was also part of the Vanguards’ squad that played in the Under-16 league organised by the MFA at the Schreiber Sports Ground and at the Mosta Football Ground.
Borg must have left a very good impression in those competitions as he was soon playing for Valletta’s minors’ side. He was in good company as that team also included Charlie Agius, Tony Giglio, Vincent Magro, Charles Galea, Joe Cassar, Tony Ciantar, Carlo Seychell and Emmanuel Galea.
This core of future Valletta FC players were all in the team which, in 1973-74, won the championship after a long wait of 11 years.
In their first season in the Minor League, Borg and his team-mates finished in third place but had the satisfaction of beating the eventual winners, Sliema Wanderers.
Everyone in Valletta was excited by this bunch of talented youngsters as, one by one, they were introduced into the first team which, at the time, was in a period of transition.
Borg made his first-team debut on November 12, 1966 in the 0-0 draw against Hibernians. He never looked back.
This was, in fact, the start of a rather short but successful career with Valletta which lasted nine seasons.
During this period, he played 97 league games in the Citizens’ famous white shirt, scoring three goals.
Borg also played four times for Valletta in European competitions.
In 1973-74, he featured in the Champions Cup against HJK Helsinki, of Finland, and in 1972-73, he played in the European Cup of Winners’ Cup match against Inter.
Valletta lost 6-1 against the Italian giants at the San Siro but Borg had the honour of scoring his team’s consolation goal.
A free-kick from midfield was beaten away by Inter goalkeeper Lido Vieri. The ball fell to Borg who planted it in the roof of the net.
Borg also played three times for the full Malta XI. He made his debut for the national team on December 22, 1974 in the European Championship against West Germany.
Borg marked Bernd Holzenbein that day and came through with flying colours.
Germany penned Malta in defence for long stretches but could only score once through Bernhard Cullman a minute from half-time.
In 1975, Borg also played for Malta against Greece (0-4) and Belgium (0-5).
During his career with Valletta, Il-Pesu won the championship in 1973-74 and 1977-78. He also won the FA Trophy in 1974-75, the Cassar Cup in 1968-69, the Independence Cup in 1974-75 and the Sons of Malta Cup in 1974-75.
Borg seemed destined for a long and successful spell with his home club but in 1977, the Citizens were offered what was, in those days, a lucrative sum of £2,000 for his transfer by Melita Eagles, of Australia.
Valletta, however, were loath to part with their player and the deal fell through.
That seemed that but Borg had set his heart on going to Australia.
After an angry showdown with the Valletta FC committee, he refused to play for the Citizens and retired from the game.
It was a rash decision which brought Borg’s career to a premature end.
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