Tony Nicholl

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Tony Nicholl

Tony Nicholl (1 January 1916 - 11 March 1999) was a Maltese footballer.

He was born in Sliema, the youngest of 23 siblings. His father was an Irishman who came to Malta with the Irish Fusiliers.

In his childhood, Tony was already a football fanatic. He used to play with friends in the many fields around Sliema at the time. Once he had a small accident while playing and hurt his foot. The pain increased and a medical doctor told his parents that the only solution was amputation. But his eldest brother Joe, Sliema Wanderers goalkeeper, asked the club doctor to visit his youngest brother. The medic massaged the child's foot and in a few days the pain had gone.

Young Tony used to attend Sliema's Primary School. As his father's workplace was in Marsa, he was then transferred to the Marsa Primary School. Later he attended the Friars Secondary School. During his schooldays, Tony was a regular with the school team in the goalkeeper position, like his brother Joe.

He started playing league football with Sliema Rovers who tried him in other positions. As this team used to serve as the nursery for Sliema Wanderers, in 1933 Tony found himself playing centre-forward position for the Blues in Malta's highest league.

Tony played for the Wanderers for 25 years and though many clubs wished him to don their colours, he remained loyal to his town's club. He only played twice as a guest for Valletta F.C., but those were competitions which Sliema did not take part in. Even foreign clubs requested his services. Charlton Athletic, Southampton and an Argentine squad wanted him in their ranks but Tony did not want to leave the country because of his mother. Tony's level of football was so high that when the Swedes of IFK Goteborg visited Malta, a high official remarked that if Tony was a Swede, he would be a natural choice in their national team.

Tony was involved in a shooting accident when someone shot at his feet a number of times in Balluta Bay. Though many supporters thought the incident had football rivalry behind it, the investigations found out that the motive had nothing to do with the game. He was injured in both feet and his future in football was in danger. But fortunately he resumed playing and his career continued for a further 11 years. In fact he succeeded in playing for a whole 25 years. Though he played many times for Malta Pick XI, the Maltese national team started to exist after the end of his career.

He won the league 10 times, the FA Trophy 9 times, the Cassar Cup 7 times, the Scicluna Cup 6 times, the Christmas Cup once, the double three times and the Quadruple Crown once. He scored a total of 262 goals, 181 of which in the league. He won the Footballer of the Year Award in 1955/56.

The Manoel Island football ground bears his name. Tony was honoured with Ġieħ ir-Repubblika in 1994

See also

Category:Tony Nicholl Photos