Victory confirms Patafta loan from Benfica
Wednesday June 20, 2007
Melbourne Victory has further strengthened its squad ahead of the upcoming Hyundai A-League season by signing former Australian Under-20 Captain Kaz Patafta on a one-year loan deal from Portugese giants Benfica.
18-year-old Patafta, who was a regular in Benfica’s reserves squad and made three appearances with the first team, was invited to join the Qantas Socceroos 2006 World Cup training squad by then-Head Coach Guus Hiddink.
A graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport program, Patafta joined the two times European Champions in January 2006 after an eye-catching performance in the Under-17s World Cup in Peru in 2005 as Captain of the Australian side.
Head Coach, Ernie Merrick, believes the overall presentation of the A-League, combined with the opportunity and facilities provided by Melbourne Victory were instrumental in enticing the youngster home.
“Kaz is a terrific talent with enormous potential,” Merrick said. “The quality of our league and the calibre of facilities here in Melbourne makes us a really viable alternative for big European clubs looking to loan players like Kaz.
“We hope to provide Kaz with every possible opportunity to continue to improve as a footballer and we look forward to seeing him develop as a key player for Melbourne Victory and for the Australian national team.”
Patafta becomes Melbourne’s fourth rostered under-20s player, alongside Leigh Broxham, Mitchell Langerak and Evan Berger, which is in excess of the three under-20 players required by the Football Federation of Australia.
“The FFA has increased the squad sizes for A-League teams this season to 23, and it makes sense to offer greater opportunities to young Australian players,” Merrick said.
“Gradually we’re starting to see the young player drain starting to be reversed as youngsters realize they can stay in Australia to further their careers. To that end, the A-League has already been an unqualified success, and I’m sure we’ll see this continue in years to come.”
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