City has lost a pillar Published on: 10-08-2015

The death of Charles Camilleri, aged 60, cast a pall over Valletta yesterday as friends and residents mourned the passing of a gentleman who had given a lot to the capital city.
‘Karmenu’, as Charles was popularly known, served as president of Valletta FC between 2003 and 2007, and, despite his deteriorating health, had remained at the helm of the La Valette Philharmonic Society until he took his last breath on Saturday evening.
Paul Spiteri, the long-serving Valletta FC vice-president who was Camilleri’s right-hand man during the latter’s four-year tenure as club president, described him as a “Valletta pillar”.
“We have lost a pillar,” Spiteri told Times of Malta.
“His death is a huge loss not just for our club but for the entire city because Charles was Valletta through and through.
“He was a very kind person who helped a lot of people as well as churches and other organisations in Valletta.
“He was a true gentleman.”
Camilleri took over the presidency of Valletta FC at a very delicate time for the club.
After leading the club through arguably the most glorious period in its history, including the famous six-trophy haul in season 2000-01, Joe Caruana Curran stepped down from his post as president in 2003.
It was a time when Valletta were beset by serious financial difficulties which forced them to part with most of their established players.
“I was the person who approached Charles Camilleri to become president of Valletta FC,” Spiteri reflected.
“Joe Caruana Curran had just left his post and we were finding it very hard to find people of a certain stature who were willing to take over the presidency.
“It was a very delicate period for our club but Charles didn’t shy away from the challenge.
“During that time Paul Zammit was appointed coach in his first spell with Valletta.
“The club’s financial problems left us with no option but to sell the core of the team that had won so many honours in the previous seasons.
“The objective at the time was to build a new team and try to be as competitive as possible in the Premier League but we knew that we had little chance of challenging for trophies.”
Charles was one of the few persons who had the courage to take over the presidency during a very difficult period for the club
- Gilbert Agius
After four years at the helm of Valletta FC, Camilleri took a backseat in the summer of 2007. He was succeeded by Victor Sciriha, the current president who has restored Valletta FC to their former glory.
Heading a glorious club like Valletta through arguably its most turbulent period was no easy task for Camilleri but, amid all the financial travails, he also had many nice moments to savour.
Jogging his memory, Spiteri recalled an episode in 2005 when, in his own words, he had never seen Camilleri happier.
“We were playing against Floriana and Massimo Grima scored a last-gasp winner,” Spiteri reminisced.
“Charles was beaming with joy after the game. He was in seventh heaven as Grima’s goal earned us a dramatic victory in what was a hard-fought derby.”
Gilbert Agius, the former Valletta captain and talisman who now holds the post of assistant to head coach Zammit, hailed Camilleri’s resolve and courage to step forward and lead the club in challenging times.
“First and foremost, I wish to send my condolences to the family of Charles Camilleri,” Agius said.
“Charles was one of the few persons who had the courage to take over presidency during a very difficult period for the club.
“He did everything in his capacity to keep the club in the Premier League despite all the difficulties.
“During his time as president, the club still recruited some important players and coaches. The appointment of Paul Zammit as coach was a sign that Valletta were working to lay solid foundations for the future.”
Many high-profile players sought pastures new in the period 2002-2007 but Camilleri and his fellow committee officials were not prepared to lose Agius who, for many years, was the symbol of Valletta FC.
“I remember having a meeting with Charles as he wanted to keep me at all costs,” Agius recalled.
“The insistence of the committee, especially Charles, was one of the factors why I stayed with Valletta.”
Agius said he had remained in contact with Camilleri during his long illness.
“I spoke to Charles on several occasions in recent months,” Agius said. “We met at the Valletta Awards when Charles was honoured with the Gieh Il-Belt Valletta accolade. He was delighted.
“For me, it was an emotional occasion albeit tinged with sadness.
“I have fond memories of Charles as a man with a great drive and energy to keep Valletta FC where they belonged and seeing him in a wheelchair made me very sad.
“A few months ago, I was part of the Valletta FC delegation that visited Charles at his home and he was very pleased.
“He was a person who never hid his emotions and appreciated even the smallest of gestures.
“I also remember that Charles was the only person connected with the club who came to see me when I was playing for Pisa.”

Source - Times of Malta