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Will a Maltese player ever make it to the English Premier League?

Though she be little, she is fierce. No, Shakespeare wasn’t particularly referencing Malta here, but he could have been! The Maltese are strong, fierce and proud of their sporting abilities. However, to date, the island’s success on the major football stage has been somewhat limited. While we have been in the qualifiers for practically every World and European tournament, we have never made it. It’s safe to say that, as a national team, we’ll never be the favourite when it comes to live football betting today.

But what about individual players? We must have some that have the potential to make it to the bigger stage… and there’s not much bigger than the English Premier League, right? Well, here, we will try to answer that burning question on every Maltese football fan’s lips… will a Maltese player ever make it to the EPL?

Can it be done?

To date, Michael Mifsud stands as the Maltese footballer who has come the closest to making his way to the English Premier League, having played for Coventry and Barnsley during his career – almost there, but not quite.

The English Premier League is renowned as one of the world's most prestigious football competitions - and while it has been home to players from all over the world, it has yet to witness a Maltese player light up its pitches. As Maltese fans eagerly await this historic moment, it’s a dream that doesn’t really seem to be getting any closer - and can it ever be done? Will it be soon? Will we have to wait a bit longer… or are we living on the never-never?

The standard of football in Malta

Realistically, the Maltese Premier League currently lags behind the English Premier League by quite a long way… it’s oceans apart. Just last year, the level of football in Malta ranked them 46th out of the 55 member nations in the UEFA coefficient. Although the league champions can earn a spot in the first round of the Champions League, there is always a fallback option to play in the Europa Conference League if they don’t qualify for the former.

While the Maltese Premier League no doubt operates professionally - and it is certainly the highest level of football in Malta, it is no way near the top European leagues - and this is clearly reflected in the performance of the Maltese national team.

Maltese players in English football leagues

The good news is that, if players are looking to make it to English soil to play, there are other options than the lofty aspirations of the Premier League… Championship League, League One, League Two etc.

As such, several Maltese players have made their mark in the English Football League over the years - just not the Premier League. Some of the most notable names include John Cutbush, Dylan Kerr, John Buttigieg, Joe Cini and Luke Dimech, who have all made their marks in English clubs - and all represented the Maltese national team on a number of occasions.

One leading player from the early years was Cornelius Hogan, who earned a distinguished reputation by playing in England for both New Brighton Tower and Burnley.

Presently, Luke Gambin, of Maltese stock if not Maltese-born, currently dons the jersey of Sutton United in League Two. Despite not being born in the country, he has earned over 30 caps for the Maltese national team.

Do we have anyone that can do it?

Given the huge difference in standards between the Maltese League and the English Premier League, it is going to be a huge challenge for any player to make a direct transition from one league to the other. That being said, there is the potential for a player to climb through the ranks in the coming years.

Two very promising prospects for the future of Maltese football are centre-back Matthew Ellul and winger Mattia Veselji, both of whom have some serious potential for growth. But whether or not they can finally live the Maltese football dream, or whether we’re left waiting, remains to be seen. Considering the gap in standards, it may take some more time before we witness a Maltese international gracing the Premier League, we can only wait and see.

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