The Greatest Season in the History of Valletta FC Published on: 11-07-2019

The greatest season in the history of Valletta FC

2000-01 was by far the greatest season in the history of Valletta FC.

The Citizens went one better than 1996- 97 when they won a record five trophies and made an impressive clean sweep of the six major honours at stake.

It was a wonderful and unique achievement which will probably never be equalled and surely never surpassed.

All the other clubs looked on with awe and a certain amount of envy as the Citizens surmounted one obstacle after another before they deservedly reached the summit.

Valletta’s mammoth task started on July 21, 2000 when they met Birkirkara in the first match of the Lowenbrau Cup. The game ended in a fair 1-1 draw which left both teams hoping.

Three days later, Birkirkara drew 1-1 with Sliema Wanderers to leave the issue wide open to any result.

Everything, therefore, depended on the result of the last game between Valletta and Sliema. A fine hat-trick by Chris Oretan gave Valletta a 3-1 victory and the first trophy of the season.

Valletta continued their run of success on Saturday, December 30, 2000 when they beat Sliema Wanderers 4-1 in the Super Five final to make sure of ending the year and the Millennium with a flourish.

Earlier in the competition, Valletta had beaten rivals Birkirkara 5-3 in the semifinals.

Wednesday December 13, 2000 was another golden day in the history of Valletta FC.

Republic Day during that season marked Valletta’s triumph in the historic Centenary Cup.

This was a one-time competition held by the Malta Football Association to mark the Centenary from the foundation of the association.

The competition was started early in the year 2000 and was split over two seasons.

All the clubs affiliated with the association took part in the competition which was played on a knock-out basis.

Valletta eliminated Xgħajra Tornadoes, Marsaxlokk, Ħamrun Spartans and St Patrick’s FC before they defeated their great rivals Floriana in the final.

Crowning moment

The crowning moment of that great season came when Valletta were declared league champions.

However, it would not be true to say that Valletta dominated the 2000-01 league championship. There were times when it seemed that either Sliema, Birkirkara or even Hibernians would beat the Citizens in the final run-up.

At the end of the first phase, Valletta topped the table but when the points were halved, they had only a one-point advantage over Sliema Wanderers and two over Birkirkara.

In the ten Championship Pool matches, Valletta only dropped four points from a possible 30. Valletta drew 2-2 with Sliema and lost 1-3 against Hibernians.

However, the turning point of the title race came in the encounter between Sliema and Birkirkara.

The Wanderers needed to win this game to keep up their challenge. The Stripes however, won this delicate encounter 2-1 and virtually handed the championship to Valletta.

Having surrendered their league title to their bitter rivals, Birkirkara’s last hope of salvaging something from an otherwise disappointing season was to beat Valletta in the FA Trophy final.

On the day however, it proved to be a no contest as Valletta romped home easy winners.

Birkirkara were never in the game because Valletta killed off their expectations right from the beginning.

Only four minutes had elapsed when Oretan raced through the Stripes’ defence before passing to the unmarked Gilbert Agius to hammer home from close range.

Birkirkara tried to react, but their efforts were weak and they rarely troubled goalkeeper Sean Sullivan. In fact, just before the break it was Valletta who almost scored again.

Nothing changed in the second period. Valletta kept a tight grip on the game and in the 70th minute it continued to slip away from Birkirkara’s reach when Dvorak beat goalkeeper Savic from close in.

Five minutes from the end, substitute Ivan Zammit scored from the penalty spot against his former club to kickstart Valletta’s celebrations.

The greatest season in Valletta’s history came to an end on May 20, 2001 when the Citizens met Sliema Wanderers in the Super Cup final.

This was a unique opportunity for Valletta to create football history and become the first and probably the last club to win a record six trophies in one season.

It was a heart-palpitating experience for the City players, officials and supporters. However, everyone kept his cool even though there was so much at stake.

Valletta took the field at full strength but Sliema surprised them with a goal from Massimo Grima after only 17 minutes of play.

The Citizens were jolted but they did not lose their heads and in the 32nd minute they were back on level terms when Agius put Oretan through, and the latter did not hesitate to grab the equaliser.

The tempo of the game increased. Both teams created good scoring chances, but the turning point came in the 69th minute.

Valletta’s skipper, Kris Laferla, placed a free kick into the heart of the Blues’ penalty area where Daniel Theuma was waiting to flick the ball towards goal. Sliema’s goalkeeper, Debono parried the ball but it fell to Laferla who was prompt to net the winner.

Six trophies in one season was no mean feat but there were more honours to come when a couple of weeks later, Gilbert Agius was voted as the Football of the Year for 2000-01.

This honour ended the greatest season in the club’s history. 

Source: timesofmalta - Carmel Baldacchino