Derby hero Piciollo wants to win title for Valletta Published on: 28-11-2017

Matteo Piciollo has become the darling of the Valletta fans after the Italian forward’s match-winner in a hard-earned 1-0 win over Floriana on Sunday to send the Whites back to the top of the standings with 27 points, the same as joint leaders Balzan.

Last weekend, former Greens’ striker Piciollo was making his first appearance in the derby donning a City shirt and he went on to leave an indelible mark on the encounter when with ten minutes to go he latched on to Santiago Malano’s ball and fired into the roof of the net to claim the match clincher and send the rowdy City fans into a frenzy of delight.

It was somewhat sweet revenge for the 25-year-old who was deemed surplus to Floriana’s plans for the 2017-18 campaign. “Scoring the winner in the derby was a really special occasion,” Piciollo told the Times of Malta yesterday.

“This was a match that I really wanted to win at all costs because I know how much it means for the club and the fans to beat Floriana. I’m so proud to have been a protagonist in this victory.

“I joined Valletta with the sole aim of winning the league and this win is a huge morale-booster for the side as the first round is almost over now.”

Sunday’s match turned out to be a tense contest with both sides seemingly effected by the occasion. As a result scoring chances came at a premium for most of the first half. However, Valletta upped the tempo after the break.

Piciollo believes City fully deserved the three points as they showed more qualities in the second half.

“It was a typical derby with both teams looking tense and affected by the big occasion,” Piciollo said.

“But, I think that if there was a team on the pitch that showed the ambition to move forward with purpose it was Valletta. We created a couple of good scoring chances and luckily our efforts were rewarded in the end.

“Now, we want this win to give us the right push for the second phase of the championship. I think we have all cards in place to finish on top of the league.”

Piciollo says he is really happy to have joined Valletta but the previous 12 months had been anything but easy for the Rome-born player who left Floriana to join Balzan on loan where he found regular firstteam football hard to come by.

At the end of the season, Piciollo found himself out in the cold and when Floriana had initially rebuffed Valletta’s advances for his signature things did not bode well for the Italian.

“Last May, my head was already set to leave Floriana and sign for Valletta. However, the transfer was put in jeopardy no agreement was reached,” Piciollo said.

“At that point I decided to leave and continue my career in Italy but, honestly, I always hoped that the move to Valletta could be revived. Then, in late August, I was told that the move was back on and, indeed, Valletta had completed the transfer formalities.

“It didn’t take much time to settle at the club as Valletta make you feel welcome from the first moment you meet them. The players and fans are superb and I really feel loved by everyone at the club. Now, I want to repay them by helping the team to win some silverware.”

Piciollo is in his fourth season in the BOV Premier League but so far he is yet to lift a trophy in Maltese football.

“The league and Trophy are the most prestigious competitions here so the club is aiming to do well on all fronts this season. We have a great squad and I know we can do it... that would be the perfect way to cap my first season at Valletta,” Piciollo reckoned.

“But we know it won’t be easy. There are three or four teams who can mount a serious challenging for the league.

“Balzan and Hibs could be our biggest rivals but you can never underestimate the threat posed by Floriana and Gżira.”

Valletta wrap up the first round with a match against fourthplaced Gżira who also led the table earlier this season.

“We have to play to our full potential and collect points consistently,” Piciollo said.

“We have to make sure we are in a good position when the title race enters a decisive phase.” 

Source - Times of Malta