Ready to silence his critics this season
Upon his arrival in South Africa, doubts surrounding his credentials emanated from scores of Chiefs fans as they feared the worst from the club’s attempt at bringing in another foreign player to solve their problems in attack. However, those doubts have been cast aside as the Venezuelan put out some strong performances, netting five times and providing two assists in his first six months of working in a new environement, in a team with a completely unique culture and pattern of play. Coming from Venezuelan top flight side Estudiantes, Paez knew he was in for a tough battle to try and impress the Amakhosi technical staff and management, as he looked to earn his 10th professional contract of his nine-year career – a first on the African continent. But he didn’t quite expect his first impression to go the way it did. “The first day when I arrived at Chiefs, the coach [Steve Komphela] came into the office and he said to me, ‘Make 10 push-ups,’ so I asked, ‘ Why?’ And he said, ‘Because I’m the boss here – your new coach – and you have to do 10 push-ups.’ So I said, ‘Okay,’ and I made the pushups. He then said, ‘Okay, you look like an intelligent player, I want to see what you can bring to us,’” Paez recalls.
Following his strange first
encounter with Komphela, the 27-year-old was afforded a twoweek trial upon their return from their mid-season Christmas break, and managed to earn himself a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Glamour Boys, much to his own surprise. “They first told me I would sign for one year but after the trial they said they’re going to give me a twoand-a-half year contract, and I was very happy,” says Paez. “Obviously I want to play here [at Chiefs] for as many years as possible, winning trophies, being happy and making the supporters and people in the club – the management, president and coach – happy. So far it’s been good and I never expected it to be like this, I’m very happy. “When I arrived here I expected something different. In South America we don’t know too much about South African football but it’s a lot different to what I thought. I never thought it was as good as it is – the league, the teams, the supporters, the stadiums. For me the experiences in the first game I played, I saw too many people in the stadium and I never imagined
something like that. In that moment I knew that I want to play here.”
StartingSt a new job in a new
environmenten can be a daunting taskta but, thanks to senior guys like SiphiweSip Tshabalala and Bernard Parker,Pa it has all been made easyea and pleasant for the South American,Am as he looks to building a newne life in a different country with hishi wife, who’s expecting a baby laterlat this year. “The guys are all very professional,” says the former Real Mallorca B team striker. “Guys like Parker and ‘Shabba’ are th the seniors and on my first day they ca came to say, ‘Hello, this is now your ho home. If you need anything you can ta talk to us.’ That made me feel good be because I moved so far from home an and to come here and find people lik like that was very nice. “But it’s not only Shabba and Pa Parker but all the players. I haven’t ha had problems with anyone in these six months and we’re all good friends –w– we’re always happy and smiling. Th That’s all good because when you go to training, your team is your second fam family. Here I only have my wife, and I sp spend more time with the team than at home with her. “If you feel good at home you feel good in training. You need to feel good in every environment because that helps you play well. I’m also happy because I’m playing all the games. If you are on the bench or in the stands then it’s more difficult, but I try to always give all my effort and give 100-percent in games and in training because I want to always be playing and winning matches.” On his goal-scoring record, Paez points out that “Wikipedia” and many other English internet websites can be very misleading, and feels his showing in the second half of last season was a more accurate reflection of what fans can expect of him in his first full Premier Soccer League season. “When I was 18, I played in Slovenia and I scored five goals in the league and two in the cup, and I then went to RCD Mallorca in Spain
and Deportivo and Messina, where I struggled to play,” he says. “But in the last years in Venezuela, with Estudiantes – I don’t know because people check on this English ‘Wikipedia’ – that’s not how many goals I scored. Last year, in the first six months, I was top scorer in the Venezuelan league with 10 goals, and in the second half of the season I got a miniscus injury but still scored three more goals.”
The former Venezuelan junior
international has done most of his talking on the field. “When I arrived here I heard people were talking about how many goals I scored in the past, but I think I’ve demonstrated with my performances what kind of a player I am,” he says. “[Last season] I scored goals and I also gave a few assists, but I think that was only the start. I want to score more goals and starting the season from the beginning will help me to show my quality, not only by scoring goals but it’s important that I help the team. “Previously I’ve said I’d like to score more than 10 goals this season, but it doesn’t matter how many goals I score, as long as the team can win trophies. I know the club haven’t won anything in the last two seasons, but as players we are talking about it a lot at training and we are focussing on changing it. I know it’s difficult to win all the trophies – MTN8, Telkom Knockout, Nedbank Cup, the league – but we have to concentrate on one game at a time and be efficient in every game. We really want to give the supporters happiness.”
“WHEN I ARRIVED HERE I HEARD PEOPLE E WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW MANY GOALS I SCORED IN THE PAST.”
(Below) Paez skips past ex Pirates midfielder Oupa Manyisa in Carling Black Label Cup clash.
(Above) Paez poses with Brazilian defender David Luiz whilst still at Mallorca.