Kaz Patafta

Kaz Patafta

Kaz Phonesak Patafta (born October 25, 1988 in Canberra) is an Australian football (soccer) attacking midfielder who currently plays for the Newcastle Jets. He attended Radford College in Canberra and received a football scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 2004. He is of Croatian and Laotian descent.

Club career

Until that date, he had been ignored by Australia's A-League squads but soon, two European giants, PSV Eindhoven (whose interest was due to the recommendation of then Australian national team manager, Guus Hiddink) and SL Benfica, expressed interest in signing him . The Portuguese side won the race for the Australian youngster but his move overseas was initially blocked by Football Federation Australia because he was under the age of 18. He eventually joined Benfica's B-Squad in January 2006.

Patafta joined Australian A-League champions Melbourne Victory on loan for the 2007/08 season. He played his first game for Melbourne Victory in a pre-season match against Sydney FC, to which they lost 1-0. He has mostly made appearances off the bench in the 2007/08 A-League season, amid suggestions he is not phyiscal enough, or even big enough for the league. His first goal in the A-league, a cracking left foot shot from a tight angle, came in the round 20 encounter against Wellington phoenix on the 11th of January 2008.

In May 2008, Patafta secured a release from the remainder of his contract with Benfica with the assistance of the Australian Professional Footballers' Association. On June 2 2008, Kaz Patafta signed a 1 year deal with the Newcastle Jets.

International career

Patafta gained attention when he led the Australian Under-17 football team, the "Joeys", during the 2005 World Championships in Peru.
"In a team where most of the players show good skills with the ball, Kaz Patafta has ensured his spot and has no replacement as a midfielder. A good reader of the game and the centre of command, this boy naturally became the captain of the Aussies".

Patafta was included as part of Australia's "train-on" squad before the 2006 FIFA World Cup, along with fellow promising young Australian players Kristian Sarkies and Neil Kilkenny. Unlike these players, he was not given a senior cap in the team's three pre-World Cup friendly matches. His first game for the Benfica first team was against CF Estrela da Amadora in a pre-season game on 15 August 2006.


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