New Filipino-Spanish striker for Azkals

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11:53 PM January 30th, 2013

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By: Cedelf P. Tupas, January 30th, 2013 11:53 PM

AZKALS team manager Dan Palami (left) and PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes present Javier Patiño his Philippine kit. CEDELF P. TUPAS

As a striker for Spanish second division side Cordoba, Javier Patiño Lachica earned a reputation as a scorer of important goals, which prompted the club’s fans to christen him with the monicker “Patigol” in reference to Argentine great Gabriel Batistuta.

Now, the prolific Filipino-Spanish striker hopes to bring his scoring exploits to the Philippine national side starting with the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers next month in Manila.

“I’m good at scoring goals and I’m a team player,” Patiño told the Inquirer in an exclusive interview Tuesday night just before he returned to Spain.

Patiño, who only speaks Spanish, was in Manila for a couple of days to process his passport, which will pave the way for him to boost the Azkals’ attack.

Patiño had long been in the Azkals’ sights since Filipino-Spanish defender Juani Guirado told team manager Dan Palami that the striker had Filipino lineage.

Guirado was instrumental in convincing Patiño to play for his mother’s homeland—mostly through messages on Facebook.

“Juani told me it would be a good experience,” said Patiño through interpreter Rafa Garcia.

Patiño’s mother, Adolfa Cristina Lachica, hails from Dumanjug, Cebu, and she couldn’t have been happier when Madrid-born Javier, 24, made the decision.

“My mother was very emotional,” said Javier, whose last visit in the country was when he was 12. “It’s always been her hope that we reconnect with family and relatives who we haven’t seen for a long time.”

“What I learn in Spain I will try to impart to the team,” said Patiño. “I didn’t imagine [joining the Azkals] last year, but I’m here to help.”

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