One of Malta’s footballing greats, Hibernians FC President Anthony Bezzina, has passed away aged 72.
A flood of tributes has been pouring in online for Bezzina as the club announced the passing of their long-serving and beloved president.
“The people of Paola, together with Maltese football have lost a great man. A man of kindness and generosity, a man whose life was defined by his devotion to his family and Hibernians FC,” it said in a statement.
Bezzina served as president of Hibernians FC for 43 years but his impact on the local footballing community goes beyond the perimeters of Paola.
“Tony has been at the helm of Hibernians F.C. for over four decades, making an enormous contribution not only to his beloved club but Maltese football. He was also the President of the Premier Division Standing Committee,” the Malta Football Association said.
Former Malta and Hibernians goalkeeper Mario Muscat took to Facebook to pay tribute to the late legend.
“Today Malta has lost one of the greatest gentlemen that have contributed all his life to Paola,” he said.
“He was like our second father to all of us players. We won a lot together, we celebrated many honours and victories but also we cried together in difficult moments. You gave me, the club and Paola many great moments that will be remembered forever.”
In 2019, Bezzina was awarded the Ġieħ ir-Repubblika for his contribution to local football.
“Mr Tony Bezzina was one of those presidents in Maltese football that every opponent respected. I will never forget when he was interviewed by Roderick Vella after winning the FA Trophy in 2013. Bezzina said that Birkirkara deserved to win the decider of the historic championship held in the same year. Rest in peace, Tony,” another user said.
Parliamentary Secretary for Sports Clifton Grima also paid tribute to Bezzina, calling him a beacon of honesty and gentleness.
“He was an example to everyone in all that he did,” he said.
MFA President Bjorn Vassallo remembers Bezzina as a true gentleman in all aspects of life and thanked Bezzina for all he did for the football community.
This was your favourite venue. Your football home. You left a football legacy without heralding any fanfare. In the way of doing things. In your style of winning the argument. A gentleman from every aspect. Sur Tony thank you from all the football community. Forever missed. pic.twitter.com/UUVWOx780X
— Bjorn Vassallo (@VassalloBjorn) March 15, 2021
In addition to individual tributes, many local football clubs have paid their respect to Bezzina, noting how he was not only integral to the success of Hibernians, but to Maltese football as a whole.
“Tony Bezzina, a great gentleman and an iconic figure for all the Maltese football followers,” said Floriana FC.
Earlier today, Maltese football lost another legend, one of Valletta Football Club’s most passionate fans and club director, Vincent Tabone, known as “Palollu“.
Palollu also died aged 72.
Rest in peace Tony Bezzina and Vincent Tabone