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40 goals. 40 stories. Michael Mifsud’s sensational achievement with Malta.

While the world of football is going crazy about Wayne Rooney’s 50th goal with the England National Team which helped him to surpass Bobby Charlton’s record, in the south-west of the United Kingdom, a Maltese knight has written a new page in the history of Maltese football. With his momentary equalizer against Azerbaijan, Michael Mifsud has now reached 40 goals with his national team in 111 matches. A huge achievement for a Maltese player considering when Malta do not qualify for any major tournaments and they are not the type of team that scores 2 goals per match.

The 34 year-old Maltese has captain is now also 11 matches beneath Malta’s most-capped player David Carabott who has 122 caps under his belt with the Maltese National Team and if he manages to pass Carabott’s record as well, he would become Malta’s main man throughout its footballing history.

A long journey commenced back in February of the year 2000 when Michael Mifsud put on the Maltese cross on his chest for the very first time in the friendly match against Albania under the guidance of Josif Ilic. Michael Mifsud’s first goal with his nation arrived a year later in a 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Iceland when he netted the momentary 1-0 before the Icelandic team managed to turnaround the score to their favour.

As soon as his club performances where being witnesses by local and foreign clubs, 4 years after his Premier League debut Mifsud went to pursue his career in Germany with FC Kaiserslautern, both with the B team and also with the Bundesliga squad. He carried his impressive performances overseas with his national team where he continue to find the net in a regular way scoring 9 goals in a couple of years between friendlies, international tournaments and also UEFA qualifiers, including also a winning goal against Azerbaijan on his 21st birthday.

The 2007/2008 season was probably Michael Mifsud’s best season where he played for Coventry City in the Championship where he also netted a brace against English giants Manchester United in the Carling Cup back in 2007 and it was a period where Malta was demonstrating that it was no pushover to any of the other nations. Michael Mifsud was instrumental for the Maltese nation during the UEFA Euro 2008 Qualifiers where the small island managed to earn a record 5 points from its commitments, challenging also Moldova to avoid the last place (the direct encounter finished in a 2-3 win for Moldova though). He found the net 3 times and was also part of Malta’s historic home win over Hungary which was their first competitive win on home soil since 1982.

On the 26th March 2008, Mifsud’s talent was underlined with a superb performance from the mosquito (a nickname which he carried with him since his Coventry’s period) in a friendly match against minnows Liechtenstein. He wrote his name on the scoresheet five times with Malta ending up as winners by seven goals to one, registering Malta’s biggest ever win. A majestic performance from Mifsud and his companions witnessed by not more than 200 spectators but that it will remain as one of the most memorable moments in Maltese football.

Mifsud was once again in the heart of a mesmerising performance from his nation on the 7th June 2013 when Armenia was beaten by one goal to nil on its own soil courtesy of his goal, giving Malta its first points in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier and a historic away win.

Besides helping his team to earn a point, his momentary 1-1 goal against Azerbaijan underlined an eternal talent that despite he is nearing the end of his international career, he still manages to find the net.

40 goals to watch, 40 stories to narrate, can the 41st be against the qualifying group leaders Norway? Until then, all hail the knight.

Gianluca Lia