Patafta 2.0 reboots for FFA Cup
He was once considered one of the brightest prospects in Australian football and now Kaz Patafta is hoping he can re-launch his career via a dream run through the FFA Cup.
The 25-year-old midfielder is taking the first steps towards a return to the professional ranks at NSW NPL side Sydney United 58, under the coaching of Mark Rudan.
United are into the last eight of NSW's Waratah Cup, with a victory over Sydney Olympic later this month to confirm the club's spot in the inaugural FFA Cup tournament.
Once there the chance to take on the big A-League clubs – including his former sides Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory – awaits Patafta.
It would be a dream come true for the classy playmaker, who looked lost to the game when he quit the sport after a tough season with the Jets in 2011.
Patafta, once considered so good he was signed by Portuguese giants Benfica as a teenager, went away and got himself a law degree before getting the itch to return to the game.
And he says Patafta 2.0 has grown up a lot and is a much wiser and stronger version of himself both on and off the field.
"I seemed like I couldn't put a foot wrong when I was younger. I did have a period where I had to step away and learn a bit about my game, I had to reflect on what happened," Patafta told www.footballaustralia.com.au on Monday at the launch of Westfield as the FFA Cup’s naming rights sponsor.
"I feel I'm a new version of myself. I still haven't shown what I can do and it's something I'm really focused on.
"I know where my game was lacking and they're the things I've embraced and worked on. I'm in a great place, especially under Mark at Sydney United.
"It's a great stepping stone for me and it's a great start. I'm excited about the future, I know I still have time, I'm fortunate I've had minimal injuries, my body's good and I'm very focused on coming back."
Patafta has made quite an impression in his short stint at Sydney United and scored twice in their recent 8-1 win over Fraser Park which has the club within one win of the FFA Cup.
The former Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets player says the chance to play in a competition like the FFA Cup – and a crack at those professional outfits – has re-ignited the passion inside him.
"From a players perspective it's just amazing to have the opportunity to play against the highest level players and teams in the country," Patafta said.
"For a club like Sydney United I can tell you from the backroom staff all the way through to the players and supporters it's something they have been talking about and taking extremely seriously."
So can the club complete a fairytale run and go all the way through to the final in December?
"At Sydney United I believe we do have a great chance with the players we have there and the coaching staff," Patafta declared.
"With Mark Rudan, the level of training and the environment he's set there is equivalent in my perspective to some of the better teams I've been around.
"It is going to come down to match day and the players we've got but I think the clubs like Sydney united will definitely compete."
Key Dates of the Westfield FFA Cup 2014
Live Draw of Westfield FFA Cup 2014 Round of 32 - Thursday, 26 June 2014
Westfield FFA Cup 2014 Round of 32 matches commence - Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Live Draw of Westfield FFA Cup 2014 Round of 16 - Thursday, 21 August 2014
Live Draw of Westfield FFA Cup 2014 Quarter Finals - Thursday, 25 September 2014
Live Draw of Westfield FFA Cup 2014 Semi Finals - Thursday, 6 November 2014
Westfield FFA Cup Final 2014 Activities W/C Monday - 8 December 2014
Westfield FFA Cup Semi Final 2014 (1) - Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Westfield FFA Cup Semi Final 2014 (2) - Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Westfield FFA Cup Final 2014 Tuesday - 16 December 2014