Former Benfica prospect Kaz Patafta has joined Lao Premier League side Lane Xang United for the 2015 season.
Patafta, 26, joined the Portuguese giants at the age of 16 after having impressed at international youth level with Australia’s Under-17 and Under-20 national team.
After serving as captain in the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, the midfielder was signed by Benfica in 2006 but failed to break through to the top team.
He returned to Australia after securing a contract release, with unsuccessful stints at Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets leading to a sudden retirement at the age of 23.
Patafta earned a Bachelor of Laws during his sabbatical, rediscovering football through a guest stint with regional league side Canberra FC in 2013.
While he was included as part of Australia’s provisional squad before the 2006 World Cup, Patafta has no senior caps and is eligible to play for Laos though his mother’s heritage.
“[Patafta is] the most technically gifted player I’ve coached,” current Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou told FourFourTwo in 2007. “[At the U-17 World Cup] he looked totally comfortable on the ball and I was constantly amazed with the things he could do.”
Lane Xang, who finished fifth in last year’s Lao Premier League, currently occupy the top spot with four points from three matches.