‘The Messi of Malta’ warns Eng­land ahead of World Cup qual­i­fier

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports -

Michael Mif­sud savoured foot­ball’s abil­ity to de­liver the un­ex­pected long be­fore Ice­land’s hero­ics at Euro 2016 tipped Eng­land into an­other fi­asco.

Mif­sud is the Mal­tese striker who once si­lenced Old Traf­ford with two goals for Coven­try as they knocked Manch­ester United out of the League Cup.

Next day, he was dubbed ‘ The Messi of Malta’ by one Ital­ian news­pa­per and it re­mains a cher­ished mem­ory for the 35-year-old who will win his 120th in­ter­na­tional cap when he steps out at Wem­b­ley to­day.

“Play­ing at Old Traf­ford in front of 75,000 against Manch­ester United and scor­ing two goals to knock them out was some­thing spe­cial,” he said. “We played re­ally well and ev­ery­body was happy. Apart from Sir Alex Fer­gu­son. He was quite mad. He went straight in af­ter the game.” It was a sweet mo­ment for some­one who had an un­suc­cess­ful trial at United as a teenager and ar­rived in English foot­ball via Germany and Nor­way, signed by Micky Adams who was sacked as Coven­try boss a week af­ter Mif- sud’s ar­rival. Re­count­ing his per­sonal tri­umph may in­spire con­fi­dence but this Malta team, ranked 176 in the world, is not likely to em­u­late Ice­land.

“Ice­land is a small na­tion, smaller than us, but nearly all the play­ers are play­ing abroad,” said Mif­sud. “They did re­ally well in the Eu­ros, but you can’t com­pare them with us, or us with San Marino. Ev­ery na­tion has its own lim­i­ta­tions. Ev­ery player goes out to win and it starts 0-0. You have to be re­al­is­tic be­cause Eng­land are a strong side. We’re a small coun­try, we’re the un­der­dogs, but some­times mir­a­cles hap­pen.”

“There’s an el­e­ment of luck in­volved. We’ll give our best and en­joy the day. It will be a proud mo­ment for us. Eng­land is a big na­tion with big play­ers. We all saw the man­ager was sacked and a new man­ager came in and it af­fects the squad, but the play­ers can han­dle it.”

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