Chennai, August 27, 2019: Experienced former Maltese international Andre Schembri became Chennaiyin FC’s sixth summer signing, after he put pen to paper on a one-year contract, having joined on a free transfer. A journeyman with bags of experience playing across Europe for club and country, 33-year-old Schembri will arrive in India on the back of a two-year stint at Cypriot top-tier side Apollon Limassol.
Schembri is set to become the first Maltese player to feature in the Indian Super League, as well as for Chennaiyin. Given Malta’s close geographical proximity to Italy, Schembri is well-versed with CFC given the club’s rich history with regards to Italians. FIFA World Cup winner Marco Materazzi was at the club’s helm in their first three seasons, with a whole host of Italians having represented the club in its five-year history.
“I am well aware about Chennaiyin owing to the Italians who have been at the club in the past. It is a great feeling to become the first Maltese footballer to play for the club and in the league,” shared Schembri in excitement.
Having played in five countries over the last nine years, Schembri is a seasoned campaigner who loves experiencing different cultures and traditions. “In my view, I adapt very well to different countries, their cultures and styles of football being played there. I have seen quite a bit of Indian football and ISL, and I am really looking forward to it. I hope this will be the best year of my career as we pursue the ISL title,” said Schembri, who can speak six languages, all from the countries he has played in, owing to his expansive travels.
Capable of operating across the frontline and occasionally in midfield, Schembri believes his versatility is his biggest strength. “Wherever I have played and in whichever position, I have always trusted my instinct in front of goal. With my style of play, I am like a fox as every time the ball goes into the box, I have a chance to score. I started more as a midfielder but with time I have played as a No. 10, a striker and even on the wings with my instincts in front of goal a constant. As for my national team Malta, I have played more often in defensive midfield as coaches chose to utilize my defensive skills and vision in those situations,” Schembri said while analysing his style of play.
With over 500 career appearances for club and country, Schembri has plied his trade in Malta, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal, with CFC marking his first foray outside Europe.
“I anticipate my time in India as a great challenge. I have always believed one can learn a lot outside their comfort zone. ISL will not be an easy league at all, hence I look forward to overcoming the challenge,” Schembri commented while looking ahead to his CFC career.
As for his time at the international level with Malta, Schembri is a sporting icon and a role model for young footballers coming through the ranks.
“I am from a family with rich footballing heritage. My grandfather, father and uncles – all of them have represented the national team. In fact my grandfather was Malta’s first ever captain, way back in 1957. So from the age of three, I started kicking the football and it was always my dream to represent my nation. Looking back, I can say my father is one of the main reasons for my success,” said the man who went on to captain Malta while making 94 appearances before announcing his retirement in November last year.
Along with being an accomplished footballer from his country, Schembri also understands his role in inspiring future generations. “It’s always an honour to represent the country, and to showcase my principles and values along with my technical ability. I understood at a very young age that I need to be an example for young aspiring Maltese footballers and sportspersons. I am happy I have inspired younger generations to take up sport, and I hope they emulate me in the years to come,” he said.