Maltese football fans will know Matthew Calleja Cremona for his impressive Manuel Neuer inspired performances. However, the former Maltese Under 21 shot-stopper is currently studying accountancy at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
Prior to joining St Andrews last summer, Calleja Cremona made a name for himself playing in goal for Maltese giants Floriana as well as featuring a number of times for Pembroke Athleta.
Calleja Cremona spoke exclusively to MalteseFootball.com’s Charlie Russell about his career on and off the pitch. The young shot-stopper explained why he felt a career in accountancy was the right route for him: “Apart from doing my best with my football career, I always had the ambition to succeed academically and being qualified in an expertise will definitely be a great help for me in the future.
“At first, I was unsure on what course I should study, but in 2014 I decided to start on the ACCA course as it is the most practical course for me. I find accounting and business very interesting. In addition to this, the structure of the course also helps me fit studies well in my lifestyle.”
This season St Andrews have won two of their opening six fixtures including a 2-0 victory over 2012/13 BOV Premier League winners Birkirkara FC last Saturday.
Calleja Cremona went on to speak about how he fits both football and studying into his day-to-day life: “Time management is key to manage both studies and training. I practically study during the day, then go to training and enjoy some free time later on in the evening. When we have double training sessions I try to adapt by fitting my studies in between the sessions.
“A couple of years ago, I took the decision to quit my day job in order to invest more time into my studies and my football career. As for now, the ACCA course helps me adapt to a certain lifestyle. I could watch online lectures for some subjects and attend evening classes for other subjects.
“Evening classes take place right after the football training sessions. As for the future, I am planning to fit in everything needed in my schedule that will also let me keep striving for success in my football career.”
The 24-year-old was regularly picked for Malta’s Under 21 side between 2013 and 2016 collecting four caps against Belgium, Czech Republic and Montenegro on two occasions. Calleja Cremona also made the bench against Greece and Sweden in the 2013/14 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifying campaign.
The St Andrews’ keeper finished by looking at how far his career has come over the last few years, believing he has strengthened as a person: “Football has provided me with certain difficulties along the way but looking back at them, I have realised how the challenges have deeply strengthened me.
“Over the last few years, I have played for Pembroke Athleta FC, Floriana FC and my current side St. Andrews FC. I will soon be reaching my fourth calendar year playing in the Maltese Premier League and I am feeling very positive about the future.
“The beginning of this season has been a struggle for us to obtain points but this has not disheartened us and we continued to work hard every day in training.
“This hard work paid off in our last match as we managed to secure our second win of the season against a tough opponent in Birkirkara. This is going to be another challenging season and with the young talented squad that we have, we can surely obtain much more positive results by working together as one unit.”