Former Australian youth international Kaz Patfta’s playing career didn’t reach the heights expected – but his second act could see him exceed most expectations.
As a teenager, Patafta was regarded as one of the most promising talents in Australian football. Gus Hiddink picked the 17-year-old as part of the Socceroos squad for the 2006 Germany World Cup where the teenager played alongside Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and John Aloisi in a B-International.
At the time Patafta was on the books of Portuguese giants Benfica and had been captain of Australia's Under-17 side which was coached by current Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou.
In 2007, Postecoglou told FourFourTwo “...the most technically gifted player I've coached would be Kaz Patafta.”
But as most Australian football fans now know, Patafta didn’t fulfil his undeniable potential. After two seasons he left Benfica and returned home and played in the A-League with Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets.
In the end Australia’s wunderkind sensationally retired at only 22 year of age after only playing 64 professional matches.
For many new retirees, life after football can be a devastating period and the question of what's-next can be the hardest decision they will face in life.
But after retirement, Patafta knew what his path would be and his first step was getting a law degree with honours at Deakin University.
In 2015 he became Head of Investments at Intra Corporation, a renewable energy company in Laos. A year later Patafta became the General Manager (GM) of Lanexang United, a football club based in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos where his mother is from.
During his time with Lanexang United, Patafta steered the club to its best performance on and off field and it led to an A-League club making overtures for the young GM’s services.
“I was recently considered for Sydney FC CEO but unfortunately that didn’t work out for me,” Patafta revealed to FourFourTwo.
“Even though the club decided not to move forward with me that’s a role that I have ambition and I aspire to be in one day because I have a lot of ideas.”
Patafta says some of those ideas could have provided some fruitful opportunities for the Sky Blues.