Wollongong defender James Baldacchino could get the chance to play in the one of world football’s biggest tournaments, the UEFA Europa League, after signing with Maltese Premier League team Floriana FC.
The former Joey was granted an immediate release from the Wolves this week to accept a deal with the 25-time Maltese champions.
Baldacchino had been in Malta for the past month training with under-21 national team where he was scouted by Floriana officials.
He has already began training with the Maltese club, which will play Red Star Belgrade on Thursday in an opening leg match of the Europa League’s first qualifying round.
“The last month has been an absolute whirlwind,” Baldacchino said.
“The Maltese National Training Camp was fantastic and as a result I now have the chance to play in the Maltese Premier League with a club with such great history and passion. Football is an amazing adventure.”
Baldacchino, a former student at Illawarra Sports High, has been a mainstay at the Wolves in recent seasons.
He was due to return to the club later this month, but the chance to remain in Europe proved to good to refuse.
“It wasn’t the easiest decision but at the end of the day I had a chance to immerse myself in another culture and country and develop another level to my game,” Baldacchino said.
“Opportunities like this don’t come all too often. The Wolves were fantastic in supporting whatever decision I made and have made the transition seamless.
“No matter where I play or who I play with I will always be a Wollongong Wolves player at heart.”
Despite losing a key squad member, Wolves coach Jacob Timpano was pleased to see Baldacchino rewarded with an overseas opportunity.
“James has been one of our most dedicated and committed players for a number of years now,” he said.
“He gives his all in every match and will be a great addition to Floriana. Not only have they signed a quality player they’ve got an even better person as part of their club.”