Australian striker Liam Boland could’ve partnered alongside Malta football great and former Coventry City forward Michael Mifsud - the banter may have been tasty, too.
Boland, 28, of Melbourne NPL club Avondale FC is famous for some spectacular FFA Cup goals.
He scored against Sydney FC but it was one of 2016's goals of the year against A-League club Central Coast Mariners in the FFA Cup that put him on the world map, and on the radar of the Maltese national team.
The tall striker with Maltese heritage (Boland’s grandfather on his mother’s side was born in Malta) headed to Europe after his club season was completed.
Boland was invited by the Maltese FA and ended up in a training camp with Malta’s national team ahead of a FIFA World Cup 2018 Group F qualifier against Slovenia.
Their group also included favorites England, who edged Malta 2-0 at Wembley a month earlier.
With the timings not in Boland’s favor - his season had ended two months earlier - his chances of international football were slim but he did make a strong impression on Maltese legend Michael Mifsud.
“Unfortunately I arrived lacking match fitness,” Boland tells FTBL from self-isolation in Melbourne.
“I had two weeks in Malta. I was close to getting into the squad."
The "Maltese Messi" (striped shirt, center) during his 2013 stint with A-League outfit Melbourne Heart
“Michael Mifsud is a real Maltese legend in their football," says Boland. "Everyone in Malta knows him.
"A good guy and he’d take the mickey a bit with the new guy, me, the 'kangaroo', because I think he copped a fair bit when he was in Australia for his season in the A-League.
“I’d get a bit of stick from him."
The pair would’ve fitted neatly into the “Little and Large” strike force with the pint-sized Mifsud alongside the tall Aussie unit.
“He’d jump at any opportunity to have a crack at me when he saw where I was from," Boland added. "But he was a good guy."
For Malta, it may have been a good combination up top. We'll never know, now.
Boland wouldn’t have been the first Aussie to play for Malta. John Hutchinson and Manny Muscat blazed a trail before him, with Hutchinson famously facing Cristiano Ronald in the Malta shirt.
Boland added the Maltese squad had some high-quality players at that time, such as Mifsud and Andre Schembri, then playing for Boavista in Portugal.
"Probably Schembri was the best player there," he added. "All class.
"There were some good players there but also some that weren’t better than what we have in the NPL if I’m being honest.
“Some players weren’t that crash hot, but some definitely were class and very good players.”
It was a busy time for the popular NPL forward who was also in the throes of proposing to his then-girlfriend now-wife in another part of Europe.
“It was a good experience," Boland said.
"Something to have under your belt, it’s just a shame nothing came of it because I felt I was good enough for that standard for their level and the players they had.
“It’s not on my mind, all I’m focusing on is getting back to playing with Avondale and winning some silverware when football returns.
“But if anything does come up with the Malta national team, it’d be hard to say no.
"My grandad’s a proud Maltese man, an Aussie-Maltese, so it’d be good to do that one day for him.”