Former Malta international and Floriana FC stalwart Pullu Demanuele died yesterday, aged 77.

In a statement, Floriana FC secretary Dione Borg said Demanuele's loss will be sorely felt by the sporting fraternity of his home town.

Il-Koku, as he was affectionately known, was a role model not only for his exploits as a classical winger and a prolific scorer but also after he decided to hang up his boots. He stayed close to the team and followed Floriana as much as he could.

"This shows the true love and dedication he had for the club and football in general," the statement said.

"Demanuele's contribution to the national team and Floriana FC was so great that nowadays he is still mentioned among the greatest ever footballers to have adorned the local game."

According to Carmel Baldacchino's 'Maltese Footballers - Hundred of the Best' Demanuele made 190 appearances for Floriana in a career spanning over 17 years, starting in 1946.

Demanuele decided to stop in 1965 after playing for one season in Division Two with Marsa FC.

He won the league title seven times and scored 101 goals for the Greens, a record bettered only by a handful of players along the years.

Demanuele was a prominent member of the famous Ajax team that took the island by storm in the 1940s. With the national team he was capped at all levels from the youths to full internationals.

Demanuele's greatest moment was perhaps on February 24, 1957 when he played for Malta in the country's first ever international match against Austria at the old Gzira stadium.

The 50th anniversary of that match, which Austria won 3-2, was celebrated last month. Demanuele, along with his team-mates of that era, was present for some of the activities organised by the Malta FA to mark the occasion.

Demanuele was married to Esther and had three children. His funeral will be held today at 10 a.m. at St Publius Parish Church, Floriana.

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