Maltese football on Saturday morning woke up to the news of the passing of Lolly Borg, who passed away aged 89.
Borg was without doubt regarded as one of the greatest footballers in Maltese football of the post-war era.
The Malta FA issued a statement to honour the former Malta international.
“The Malta FA is deeply saddened by the news that Lolly Borg has passed away,” the statement said.
“A national team stalwart for many years and a Floriana FC icon, Lolly was part of the Maltese side that played against Austria in the first official international match, played on 24 February, 1957 at the Empire Stadium.
“Condolences to Lolly Borg’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Borg enjoyed a brilliant career not only as a footballer but also as coach. He was part of a group of youngsters from Floriana who, under the guidance of the late Frankie Tabone, played in the legendary Floriana Ajax football team.
It was in season 1948-49 that, after an uncharacteristic run of poor results, the Floriana FC committee decided to upgrade en bloc the young Ajax team to the First Division.
Soon, their Austrian style of play began to attract huge crowds to the stadium and after a short while, they developed into the greatest club side ever seen in Maltese football at that era.
His passes, free-kicks, dribbling and roaming inspired the Greens to the most glorious era in their history. The Ajax, now wearing the colours of Floriana FC, reached their peak between 1949 and 1953 when the club won the league title four years in succession and completed two Triple Crowns.
Borg made his debut for Floriana on November 15, 1947 against Hibs at the age of 16 years, replacing the popular Leli “Scotch” Cauchi.
On that same day, Alfred Church also made his debut for Hibs. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Church was on target for Hibs while Floriana’s goal was scored by Micallef Podesta. Until his retirement in 1967, Borg never lost his place in the team.
In 1948, he made his debut with the MFA XI against SK Vasas in the Christmas Tourney
Borg became a legend in his own lifetime and was a candidate for the title of the most accomplished player in the history of Maltese football.
A natural inside-left, he formed a left-wing partnership with Pullu Demanuele.
In 1948-49, he won his first honours for Floriana.
In a memorable season, he led the team to the league, FA Trophy and Cassar Cup triple. In the FA Trophy final, against Sliema Wanderers, he scored a hat-trick, enabling the Greens to beat their Old Firm rivals 5-1.
Between 1949 and 1954, Borg was the star player of the team and his haul of 21 titles makes him one of the most honoured players in the history of our game.
Season 1953-54 was an unlucky one for the Floriana and Malta inside-forward. Injuries kept him away for most of the season. The next year, however, he was back in business, helping the team win another triple crown.
Borg was one of 11 trail-blazers who played in Malta’s first-ever international match against Austria in 1956.
An automatic choice for the National XI, he captained the team against some of the best European teams of that era.
In 1961-62, he won the Footballer of the Year Award and was the first footballer to claim the Sportsman of the Year title. After hanging up his boots, Borg took up coaching with great success, again leading Floriana through some of the best years in their history.