Rejuvenated Patafta targets Socceroo return

Forgotten midfielder Kaz Patafta has boldly declared he is now ready to fulfil his undoubted potential and still harbours ambitions to play for the Socceroos.

Patafta was the young playmaker so highly thought of that then-Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink took him to the World Cup as part of a train-on squad in 2006 when only a teenager.   But despite being signed by Portuguese giants Benfica and stints in the Hyundai A-League with Newcastle and Melbourne Victory, things just didn't work out.   Quitting the game in 2011 to complete a law degree at Bond University, it would have been fair to assume Patafta was lost to football and any chance of playing international football.   But now 25 and having rediscovered his love for the game at NSW NPL club Sydney United 58, Patafta has a smile on his face again and is dreaming big.   When asked if he still holds ambitions to play for the Socceroos, Patafta said: "Definitely. I don't think any player in this country wouldn't aspire to that level.   "And if I wasn’t to aspire to reach that level then I would have to question myself as to what I'm doing. It's definitely something to look at,” he told at the launch of Westfield’s sponsorship of the FFA Cup, a  tournament he’s set to compete in with United.   "I'm very realistic as to where I am now and there's a long way to go but that's something in the back of my mind.   "Being able to showcase what I can do and the merits of me as a player is my goal.   "It's something I will strive for and I know if I'm at my best, it's a level I can attain. Having the confidence that I've been there before gives me the confidence moving into the future."   Patafta admitted his sabbatical from the game forced him to do some soul-searching and analyse who he was as a person and footballer.   "I've learnt that my identity isn't necessarily just football," he said.   "Being able to step away from the game and meet new people and to step away and reflect was a big thing for me.   "My identity is not just as a footballer. I believe I have other skills to focus on like getting an education and that's a challenge in itself.   "Now being able to come back and play for the love of the game is something I missed for a long time and I'm just extremely excited."   Patafta is also optimistic about the Socceroos chances at the World Cup, despite in a difficult group on paper with world champions Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.   Having worked with Ange Postecoglou at youth level with the national team, the former youth prodigy says the Socceroos couldn't be in better hands to shock the world.   "Ange was one of my biggest mentors in this game. He was a coach that gave me a lot of direction as a young player," Patafta explained.   "He brought the best out of me and I know he's not someone who goes into a competition making excuses. He'll be going there to achieve nothing but success for Australia and I have faith in that.   "I've played with a lot of the players there and they are the upmost professionals. You don't play at the level they are unless you are at the top of your game and a lot of them are.   "How we'll is a strange thing and it comes down to the day. It's exciting to play against the best in the world and I'm sure the players will embrace that. I'm sure we'll surprise a few people."   The final chance to see the Socceroos on home soil before they head to Brazil 2014 will be when they take on South Africa in a farewell game on May 26 in Sydney. Tickets for the match, presented by NAB, are on sale now. Click here to secure yours today.