Former Malta captain Schembri gears up for new challenge with Chennaiyin FC

Having enjoyed a career that has spread over 15 years and six countries, Andre Schembri signed up for his first stint in Asia by joining Chennaiyin FC.

The tiny island nation of Malta rests on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Located 80-odd kilometers from the football-hungry country of Italy, Malta has enjoyed a fairly competitive footballing history. And in that history, the Schembri family plays a pivotal role.

Salvinu Schembri was one of the nation's first-ever captains, back in the 1950s, and passed his legacy down the generations. His son Eric Schembri also donned the national jersey in the 1970s and then came along Andre Schembri, a third-generation represent, who would go on captain the Maltese team on 16 occasions.

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Having enjoyed a career that has spread over 15 years and six countries across Europe, Andre decided he was up for a challenge. The 33-year-old decided to explore shores unknown by signing up for his first stint in Asia by joining Chennaiyin FC for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) campaign.

Chennaiyin FC's Andre Schembri (extreme right) and manager John Gregory during the unveiling of Workafella as the official workspace partner, in Chennai on Wednesday.

 

“You only grow when you are out of your comfort zone This is my first time in Asia and I'm looking forward to learning the Indian culture and experiencing Chennai. At the end of the day life is not only about football,” he says with a gentle smile, a while after Chennaiyin announced its partnership with Workafella, India's leading co-working space provider.

“You only grow when you are out of your comfort zone This is my first time in Asia and I'm looking forward to learning the Indian culture and experiencing Chennai. At the end of the day life is not only about football.” — Andre Schembri

While he says he knew none of the Chennaiyin players earlier, he vaguely remembers living in the same building as Rafael Crivellaro back in the day. “The coincidence is that Rafael and I played in Portugal, in Porto, at the same time and we lived in the same building! But we did not know this. When we came here, we realised we lived there together and it was very strange!”

Andre, who supports AS Roma in the Serie A and grew up idolising Francesco Totti, says he's confident of the team's chances this season. “We have a lot of quality in the team. The Indian players have big potential. The foreigners are also good and we have a good bond. We have all the good ingredients for a successful team and I hope this will reflect on the pitch.”

Having emerged as one of the biggest talents in Malta, a nation with a total population of about 500,000, which can be covered by foot by his own admission, Andre is now looking to make a name for himself in India, which boasts a burgeoning population of over 1.3 billion.

Perhaps he will look to win over hearts in Chennai, to begin with, which is home to close to 80,00,000 people, only about 18 times the population of that back home.

No pressure, Andre!

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