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William gets his kicks in Malta

The Duke of Cambridge proved a whizz at table football when he joined a group of teenagers for a lunchtime match - and scored the winning goal.

William showed off the skills of a misspent youth when he visited a centre providing a range of services for youngsters and adults from an impoverished area of Malta.

The second-in-line to the throne may have performed better than his pregnant wife Kate, who was supposed to make the two-day visit to the island nation but withdrew due to a severe form of morning sickness.

The Duke has been in regular touch with the Duchess, updating her about the visit, which would have been her first solo trip, and his young son has also been in his thoughts.

He joked with a child care student that she could come to the UK and look after George, who is almost 14 months old.

When William spied a group of teenagers huddled over the table football he could not resist joining Kayleigh Cioffi, 17, and her playing partner who were losing.

He expertly twirled the handles controlling the goalkeeper and defenders and turned the game around by scoring two long-range goals.

As the first went in he said in triumph "great goal from the defence", and when the winner was smashed home a few second later he added "ahh that's it, we've won".

Kayleigh, a regular user of the facilities at the Agenzija Appogg access centre, a youth and social services provider in the town of Birgu, was impressed by the Duke.

She said: "He's better than me, and he helped us win. He was so, so nice. He said that he would love to spend a summer here."

The Duke proved more adept at the traditional game then the computer version but clearly enjoyed sitting on a bean bag and playing an Xbox football game with three teenage boys who were nearby.

He joined the Milan team who were playing Real Madrid and took one of his computer footballers on a mazy run before he was tackled.

Ansell Delia, 16, a member of the Colour of Life club, which provides after-school activities at the access centre, said about the Prince's computer football skills "he was not bad". The teenager added: "He's a lot different from the pictures in the papers, of course, but he seemed to really enjoy spending time with us - he's very friendly."

William chatted about his son George when he met child care student Janet Desira, 17, who told him she is learning all about young children at college.

The second-in-line to the throne joked: "You can come and do some babysitting for me," and he held out his arm to show how high George now stands, adding: "He's busy, they're very hectic at that age."

Sat next to the teenager was her friend, 12-year-old Redlene Brincat, and both wore their Sunday best dresses.

As the Duke sat with them, he said: "You're both very pretty, you have dressed up. It's a shame my wife's not here, she would have enjoyed meeting you."

Janet told him why she had chosen child care, and William asked: "Are there lots of exams, are you good at exams? I'm so-so." And then, referring to his upcoming helicopter studies for his air ambulance job, said: "I've got to do 14 exams by Christmas."

William, who wore an open-necked white shirt, blue blazer, faded blue jeans and brown suede loafers, talked with the 12-year-old about her favourite sport of boxing.

He turned his right shoulder towards her and told her: "Hit me on the arm."

She was too shy to thump the Prince, but when he asked: "Do you give the boys a hard time in the ring?" she replied "yes".

When William arrived at the centre he teased a group of teenagers who were playing Mario Kart on a Nintendo Wii console.

He asked the two girls and two boys about the "different challenges" they face in the area and teased them suggesting the girls always beat the boys at the game.

Social worker Lara Bonnici, who was supervising the teenagers, said: "This is a problem area for drugs and lots of social problems. It's positive that they can come to this group. It's a good sign."

After the visit William headed out into the searing autumn sunshine and into the main square at Birgu, a town across the harbour from the capital Valletta.

In the shade of a marquee he watched a performance of traditional dance by women in costume from the the neighbouring island of Gozo and then went on a brief walkabout.

He asked a group of young Boy Scouts from the 1st Cospicua troop about their favourite sports and talked football before heading along a narrow sandstone-walled passage to the 17th century church of St Lawrence.

After being shown its religious paintings and artwork the Duke was mobbed as he walked down to the town's marina for a boat tour of the harbour.

Dozens of well wishers stretched out their hands to great the royal visitor.

He posed for photos with mobile phones and one woman, Sara Farrugia, 27, got a picture and thrust a small note into his hand.

Ms Farrugia said: "It was a get well soon message to Kate. He is very handsome and kind and speaks to the people. He's very sociable. I would have liked to see her but it's the same to have him because he's from the same family."

He walked the few steps to the quayside and stepped into a small craft, St Angelo, crewed by Andrew Whibley, the same vessel that took his grandmother the Queen around the harbour in 1949.

For his last engagement of the tour William was guest of honour at an English garden party in the picturesque grounds of British High Commissioner Rob Luke's official residence, Villa di Giorgio.

The Duke told one guest that he had spoken to his wife this morning and that her condition had improved slightly.

William chatted to 71-year-old expat Peter Robinson, who has lived in the country with his Maltese wife for 22 years.

Mr Robinson is chairman of the George Cross Island Association, which works to commemorate and bring together veterans and families of the Second World War siege of Malta.

The 71-year-old said: "He was very happy to be here. William told me that Catherine was sad to have missed the trip but we both agreed that the hot weather would have been too much for her.

"I asked how she was doing and he said he spoke to her this morning and she was feeling a little better."

During the party, which marked the 50th anniversary of Malta's independence, the Duke was introduced to a number of local dignitaries.

As William left he thanked his hosts warmly, saying: "I know my grandparents have been watching very closely.

"Thank you for looking after me so well. I like a great smile and there have been a lot of smiles around here."

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