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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Columbus Crew's Ex-QPR Defender Gino Padula Profiled and Interviewed

The Columbus Dispatch - By Shawn Mitchell -
Crew: Argentine journeyman sees land of opportunity

Gino Padula has been in town less than a week and has yet to visit a Meijer on a late-night run for some Ruffles, razor blades or a yard rake, but he is already impressed with the possibility.

The defender, acquired by the Crew in March, is looking forward to some 24-hour American consumerism after a professional career that has taken him from his native Argentina to Spain, England, France and now the United States.

"When I moved to England, I remember at 3:30 in the afternoon it was dark and all the shops closed at 5 p.m.," he said. "It's very difficult for a family because you have to stay at home. Here, we can go to the cinema, go shopping, eat something, you know?"

Padula, 31, is married and has a 6-month-old daughter. Family and "football" are his life. After assurances from Crew Argentines Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Nicolas Hernandez and a contract offer, he signed to play in a country he had never before visited.

Crew coach Sigi Schmid said the week Padula spent training with the club during a preseason trip to England sparked mutual interest.

"Having Guillermo on the team and Nico with us, I think he felt comfortable," Schmid said. "After that, it was an easy sell."

Padula, a left back, began his career in Argentina before moving to Spain and later England, where his most productive years came from 2002 to 2005 with Queens Park Rangers. He then spent an injury-slowed season with Nottingham Forest before moving to Montpellier of the French second division in 2007. He fell out of favor there after a coaching change last April and his contract was terminated after his trial with the Crew.

That suited Padula, one of 19 Argentines currently playing in Major League Soccer. He and his Spanish wife speak English and were unhappy with the language and cultural barriers in France. Family-friendly Columbus was appealing.

"Maybe you live in Columbus and it's not like New York, but if you are happy, that's it," he said. "In France, we couldn't communicate well. But when you speak the language it's very important for football and for your life."

According to ESPN.com, Padula has made only six professional starts since the end of the 2005 season but might make his first with the Crew on Saturday against Chivas USA. He spent three weeks after leaving Montpellier awaiting a visa and has been on the field with the Crew only a few days.

Padula looked fit during practice Tuesday but was to undergo a fitness evaluation yesterday.

"I'm not 100 percent," he said. "You can train three times a day, but if you don't play football it is not the same."

Gino Padula file

• Pos . : Defender

• Size: 5 feet 9, 167 pounds

• Age: 31

• Hometown: Lanus, Argentina

• Notable: Has played professionally in England (Nottingham Forest, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic, Walsall, Bristol Rovers), Argentina (River Plate, Huracan), Spain (Xerex) and France (Montpellier) Columbus Dispatch

See Also: QPRNet Interview with Gino Padula (October 2006)

Also: Padula Playing Career

Padula Career/Profile - Wikipedia

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