Having collected a host of honours during his playing time in Maltese football, Emmanuel Fabri moved straight from retirement to coaching the island's youngsters, a job which has given him just as much satisfaction.
Fabri is a household name in Malta having won Malta Footballer of the Year in 1980/81 and Sportsman of the year in 1981. However, unlike many of his fellow top players of the time, he decided against pursuing a top-flight coaching career after retiring to dedicate his time to getting the best out of young kids at grassroots level. "I hung up my boots early at the age of 33," Fabri said. "I did this because I felt that teaching all that I had learned in the game to youngsters would give me more satisfaction. I realised that I had the patience to deal with youngsters in a professional manner and that I was a clear example to them."
The youth coach made his club debut with his local side Qormi FC in 1969. He moved on to Sliema Wanderers FC and stayed there until the end of his career, but would not consider taking a head coach's role. "My answer would be a sharp 'no'," said the 55-year-old. "My greatest satisfaction comes from seeing young kids, even at the earliest stages, being taken care of and educated in the game of football. I prefer teaching grassroots than being on top of the world with a Premier League side.
"It is great to see my former youngsters – now adults – getting their share of success in the game," continued Fabri. "Valletta FC coach Paul Zammit is an example – he has matured into one of the youngest and most respected coaches Malta can boast. His side beat Italian Serie A side Juventus during a recent friendly here. There is no bigger satisfaction than seeing my former pupils benefit from what I taught them in the game."
Fabri can call on a successful career in Maltese football in his coaching role, with a major highlight being playing against FC Barcelona in the UEFA Cup. He recalls: "We went to the majestic Camp Nou not knowing what will hit us. We only lost 1-0 in the end and that is a match which I will never forget."
Having coached Maltese youngsters for nearly 30 years, Fabri has not tired of his role and has aspirations for helping the club that launched his career. "Our aim is to get Qormi back into the top flight with players from our academies,” he added. "That is the club's fundamental priority – having Qormi-grown players donning our yellow and black kit in the Premier Division in the not so distant future."
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