Kaz Patafta was the name young promising Australian footballers looked up to.
At 16, he was already training with Benfica and would have been in their setup if not for Football Federation Australia blocking the transfer.
I was mesmerised by his performances at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championships. Think Luka Modrić— small framed yet he found a way to impact games.
The FIFA Technical Study Group agreed, writing, "Technically adept, good understanding and overview of play, strong leader."
He was the only Australian mentioned as an outstanding player in the report.
At 17, he was in Guus Hiddink's training squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
When Patafta returned to the A-League and Melbourne Victory on loan, I could tell something wasn't right.
He didn't dominate games, he struggled and looked more like a squad player than a star, let alone one that was contracted to Benfica.
At 23, he is without a professional club and I still cannot grasp what happened.
It can't be mental, because he was a strong leader as the FIFA Technical Study Group noted.
Technically, he was miles above anyone in the Australian youth set up.