Former Malta goalie Reggie Cini survives ‘respiratory problems’ after 28 days in ITU

Reggie Cini says he had “5% left to lose the game” after hospitalisation in Sicily – previously claimed he would not get vaccinated against COVID-19

Reggie Cini posts a photo of himself after recovering from a critical illness in a hospital in Ferla, Sicily
Reggie Cini posts a photo of himself after recovering from a critical illness in a hospital in Ferla, Sicily

The former Malta international goalkeeper Reggie Cini has recovered from 28 days inside intensive care in a Sicilian hospital, after suffering from “respiratory problems”.

Cini, 51, was said to have survived just a “5%” chance of living after the former Valletta footballer, who lives in Ferla, Sicily, was diagnosed with respiratory problems according to a post by his daughter Jade Cini.

His daughter posted a photo of the former footballer in hospital, with a message he posted on Facebook: “Only 5% left to lose the game but I always play it al. Thank you all for wishing me a fast recovery... now the rehab starts. Privacy will be appreciated. Love you all.”

Daughter Jade had previously said her father was suffering from “respiratory problems”. No reference was made to COVID-19, the virus whose vaccination her father claimed he would refuse, according to his Facebook posts.

Jade Cini said on 22 January that she had flown to the Ferla hospital where her father, then said to be in critical condition, was hospitalised, but she was not allowed to see him.

Cini was a vocal anti-vaxxer on Facebook, posting various messages several times throughout 2021 that he would never accept vaccination against COVID-19. On 28 May 2021 he said “neither two nor three... you can donate them to the needy”, commenting on a news story quoting Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci on Maltese vaccine stocks.

In a 15 May 2021 post, he posted a photo of a ‘NO’ with a syringe placed under a ‘stop sign’, with Cini saying “It’s a no no”; this followed other posts about ‘lies about vaccines on social media’; a photo meme of Chris Fearne hurling syringes as if they were darts, with Cini saying “you have no chance of hitting me”; and a 9 May 2021 photo of him inside a church with him saying: “My immune system, my God, Cathedral St Agatha Church”.

In a previous post on 2 May 2021, he also said: “Those who took or plan to take the vaccine are within their rights; those who do not believe in it, since it is not obligatory, do not take it... I will not take it. I am ready to leave Malta forever as long as I don’t take the injection, and use your passports, for six months, because that’s how long the vaccine lasts according to the ‘expert’ Charmaine Gauci.”

As a footballer, Cini enjoyed numerous victories with Valletta as they barnstormed through the 1990s with one league victory after the other. In all he won six Maltese premiership championships from 1990 to 2001, and six cup tournaments – three of them doubles.

In total he had 187 appearances for Valletta from 1988 to 2001, joining Sliema Wanderers and Marsaxlokk for one season in 2001, and 2002. He played 26 games for the Maltese national football team.