Gus­tavo Paez

Ready to si­lence his crit­ics this sea­son

Kick Off - - INSIDE - BY CHAD KLATE Twit­ter: @CKlatey

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.

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