Andrei Agius (born on August 12, 1986) is regarded as one of the leading defenders in the Maltese Premier League and a first-choice player for the national team.
Agius has turned out for a host of Italian clubs, including US Calcio Latina with whom he won the Coppa Italia for Lega Pro teams in season 2012–13, Messina, Melfi, Igea Virtus, Sassari Torres and Sporting Mascalucia.
After his long stint in Italian football, Maltese top-flight club Hibernians managed to lure Agius back to the local Premier League in the summer of 2014.
At Hibernians, Agius made a towering impact, establishing himself as a mainstay of their defence that played a pivotal role in the club’s march towards the Premier League title in season 2014–15.
Hibernians walked away with the title, scoring 97 goals and conceding only 24 in 33 games, the best defensive record in the championship.
Agius, along with Hibs team-mates Andrew Cohen, Clayton Failla, Rodolfo Soares, Luis Edison ‘Tarabai’ and goalkeeper Henry Bonello, was named in the Malta Football Players Association Team of the Year for season 2014–15.
Agius was also in the Hibs team that caused a shock by beating Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv 2–1 in the first leg of their 2015/16 Champions League second qualifying round tie at the Hibernians Stadium on 14 July 2015.
Skilful and good in the air, Agius has been a key player for the national team for much of the past 12 years.
The Hibernians defender has come up against a host of world-class strikers like Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Italy’s Graziano Pellè, Sebastian Giovinco and Giampaolo Pazzini, Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, and Henrik Mkhitaryan, the Armenian playmaker who plays for Premier League club Manchester United.
Despite the difficulties a small nation like Malta encounter when playing against top European teams, Agius has been widely praised for his solid performances in the heart of defence, also holding his own against some of the world’s top strikers.
The Times of Malta match report of the Italy’s 2–0 win over Malta in a World Cup 2014 qualifier, played in Modena on September 11, 2012, said:
“All had done their part but the pick of the team were Roderick Briffa and Andre Schembri while central defenders Andrei Agius and Luke Dimech effected a series of vital interceptions”.
Born on August 12, 1986, Agius began his career with Santa Lucia, his hometown club, before joining the youth nursery of Sliema Wanderers, the most decorated club in Maltese football.
In July 2003, Agius was part of the Sliema Wanderers under-16 squad that participated in the Nikola Kotkov Tournament, organised by the Academy Lokomotiv 101.
On December 19, 2003, aged only 17, Agius, who started out as a midfielder, made his senior debut for Sliema Wanderers in a Premier League match against Floriana but his determination to pursue a professional career meant that, just weeks after his first senior appearance, the then teenage defender left for his first overseas challenge.
Agius headed to Serbia to join first-division club FK Zemun on an initial six-month contract but played mostly for Zemun’s youth team, scoring two goals in the process.
In the summer of 2004, Agius moved to Italy after catching the eye of Sicilian club Sporting Mascalucia who offered him a contract.
In his first season with Sporting Mascalucia, Agius scored three goals and was voted as the most promising midfielder in the Italy’s regional championship.
Following another positive season with Mascalucia, Agius secured a contract with then Serie A club Messina where he became a regular in the reserve squad.
In his first season with Messina, Agius switched from midfield to defence.
In February 2006, Agius figured in the Torneo Mondiale di Calcio Coppa Carnevale and scored two goals, one against Pistoiese and the other against Torino.
In May 2006, Agius was among the Messina substitutes for the Serie A match against Empoli.
After his initial one-year spell with Messina, Agius was loaned to Serie C side FC Martina Franca during the August transfer window in 2006.
In season 2006–07, Agius faced intense competition for first-team places from experienced and seasoned players but still managed to make some appearances for Martina Franca in the Coppa Italia.
In season 2007–08, Agius moved to FC Igea Virtus (Messina), regarded as the second team of Messina Calcio.
In his first season with Igea Virtus, Agius played 34 league matches and one in the Coppa Italia.
His performances with Virtus earned him a four-year contract with Messina in March 2008 but the following summer, financial difficulties forced the Serie B club to file for bankruptcy.
Agius was freed from his contractual obligations with the club and rejoined Igea Virtus where he was an automatic choice in their first team.
Later on in season 2009/10 season, Agius signed for Serie C team SS Cassino in a co-ownership deal with Salernitana.
In January 2010 Agius was loaned to AS Melfi, and eventually signed a two-year contract with the club.
A year later, it looked as though Agius was going to sign for Serie B side Triestina and also played for the team in a triangular tournament, but nothing came of it.
In January 2011, Agius joined Maltese Premier League club Birkirkara on a short-term loan deal.
On August 31, 2011 Agius signed for Italian side US Latina Calcio and was part of the squad that won promotion to Serie B as well as winning the Coppa Italia for Lega Pro clubs in 2013.
US Latina’s promotion to the second division of Italian football led to a squad overhaul in the summer of 2013 and Agius opted to join Sardinian club Sassari Torres.
In the summer of 2014, Agius returned to Malta to join Hibernians, his hometown club.
2012–13: Promotion to Serie B with US Calcio Latina
2012–13: Lega Pro Coppa Italia with US Calcio Latina
2014–15: Premier League title with Hibernians
2015–16: Super Cup with Hibernians
Agius earned his first call-up to Malta’s under-21 squad, then coached by Mark Miller, in August 2003 for a friendly match against Italy under-21.
Agius has represented Malta 37 times at under-21 level.
In 2005, he formed part of the Malta under-21 team that participated in the Mediterranean Games, held in Almeria Spain. In February 2006, Agius, then aged 19, was named in Malta’s senior squad for the biennial Malta International football tournament. The other participating nations were Georgia and Moldova. On June 4, 2006 Agius played for Malta in a pre-World Cup friendly against Japan in Duesseldorf.
Agius has since played regularly for the Maltese national team under different coaches, namely Dusan Fitzel, John Buttigieg and Pietro Ghedin.