The Maltese football fraternity on Friday was mourning the loss of national team kit manager Mark Piscopo after a long illness.
Piscopo was a popular figure in the football circles with his bubbly personality and hard-working attitude and will be fondly remembered by everyone associated with Maltese football.
Prior to his role as team manager with the senior national team, Piscopo also served as kit manager with Floriana FC.
The news of his passing was broken by the South End Core, the official supporters club of the national team that paid an emotional tribute towards Piscopo.
“With great sorrow, we have just been informed that our friend, Mark Piscopo, known as Il-Lullu, has just passed away. We have always found Il-Lullu for anything we needed and he was among the first persons to support us in all of our activities,” the South End Core said.
“The South End Core sends deep condolences to all his family.
“Rest in peace Lullu. We promise you that your phrase “Kuraġġ” (courage) we will continue to keep it in our heart.”
Mark Piscopo’s son also paid a tribute to his father.
“I still cannot believe that all this is a reality…. My father was a great man, always with a smile on his face. Despite the harsh circumstances that brings with it life, he did everything he could to bring joy to those around him,” Matteo Piscopo wrote on his facebook page.
“Without doubt, you were for me a perfect example of how a complete father should be. I always found in you a sense of protection and infinite love.
“I aspire that in my life I will be of a positive effect to all people around me, and I hope to be loved and respected as much as you were.
“I am sure that your loss will leave a huge void in the hearts of many people. You will never be forgotten. You were a ray of light in a dark room.”
The Malta FA issued a statement to express its sadness at the death of Piscopo.
“Piscopo, affectionately known as ‘il-Lullu’, was a hugely popular figure at the National Stadium always going about his work with an infectious smile and wonderful positivity. He will be sadly missed by us all and the pain of his sudden passing will be felt by many,” the MFA said in a statement.
“Mark Piscopo has been filling the role as the National Team’s kit manager since his debut on the 2nd of September 2010 when Malta played against Israel in Tel Aviv. A total of 104 matches supporting our boys in red in all the dressing-room needs.
“A staunch Floriana supporter, il-Lullu was more than a kit manager, he was a larger-than-life character, with a heart of gold. Together with his closest colleague, Frankie Ciantar, he always ensured the best set-up and assistance to the National A Team players and staff both in Malta and also when on away duty.
“Lullu was also the heart and soul of the National Team. The depth of the bond between Lullu and the players was always evident, an integral part of the national team. He shared warm embraces and inside jokes with the team and staff, which tell the story of a respected and much-loved member in the group. Lullu was the person who lifted everyone’s spirits in times of need and all those who knew him became familiar with his signature word of encouragement: Kuraġġ!!”
On his part, president Bjorn Vassallo shared his thoughts about Mark and his special standing in the National Team and the football family at large.
“We are completely devastated to hear that Mark has passed away. Mark was more than a colleague, he was a close friend with whom we alI shared many special moments. I personally will cherish those memories of him throughout my life,” he said.
“It is impossible to put into words the sorrow that this moment brings with it. The sympathy shown by all those involved in the football family gives a sense of the extent of the affection we all had towards Lullu. Lullu is gone but his memory will never die.”