United land former Premier League star

2014-07-10 00:00

MARITZBURG United have added more muscle to their defence, and it comes in the form of 33-year-old Ghanaian international John Paintsil.

A familiar name to fans of the English Premier League having played for Fulham and West Ham United between 2006 and 2011, Paintsil joins Maritzburg on a one-year deal and will add much-needed experience to coach Steve Komphela’s squad.

Having spent last season with National First Division outfit Santos, Paintsil was originally linked with a move to newly promoted Chippa United in the off-season. But, not for the first time since the 2013/14 campaign ended, Chippa’s loss is Maritzburg’s gain and a deal was conducted swiftly to bring the fullback to Harry Gwala ­Stadium.

Having played in one of the most competitive leagues in European and world football, Paintsil speaks highly of the PSL.

“I have been around the world with football and I can say that in the next 10 years or so the PSL will be one of the best 10 or so leagues in the world,” he told The Witness yesterday.

“This is a really good opportunity for me. I have met the rest of the squad and they are very professional and talented. With the quality they have my expectations for the season are very high.”

Capped 88 times by Ghana, including all of the country’s matches at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, Painstil will enter the fray at Maritzburg having achieved more than any of his new peers. That sort of leadership is something that the Team of Choice can only benefit from after losing the likes of club captain Michael Morton, seasoned PSL campaigner Ruben Cloete, Bafana Bafana veteran Delron Buckley and defensive general Mario Booysen.

“Leadership in any team is very important,” acknowledged Paintsil. “But leadership doesn’t come from only one person. I would urge all of the players to take on leadership roles.”

Paintsil had already latched on to the “mutual respect” that existed in the United squad, and said that the atmosphere was largely down to Komphela’s mature approach.

“He [Komphela] respects all of his players and he listens to them,” Painstil said.

Used as a fullback and also a holding midfielder at Santos, Paintsil gives Komphela much-needed options as United continue their preparations for next season with what at this stage is a much smaller squad.

“The coach knows where I can play and it will be up to him to decide where he wants to use me,” he said. “But I have a lot of respect for my team-mates and we will all be fighting for places in the team.”

United chairperson Farouk Kadodia said that the signing was welcomed by everybody at the club.

“We have been very patient with our signings and the moment John became available we knew that his experience and leadership would be crucial to the team,” he said.

“We have lost a lot of players, like Mario Booysen, and it is important that we have placed ourselves in a position through our renewed partnership with the city where we can bring players like John here.”

Kadodia added that no new signings were finalised yesterday as negotiations for Sundowns fullback Abel Mabaso continue.

PAINTSIL HISTORY

2000-2001:

Liberty Professionals (Ghana)

2001-2002:

Berekum Arsenal (Ghana)

2002-2006:

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

2006-2008:

West Ham United (England)

2008-2011: Fulham (England)

2011-2012: Leicester City (England)

2012-2013: Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

2013-2014: Santos (South Africa)

2014-present :

Maritzburg United (South Africa)

John Paintsil was a member of Ghana’s 2006 World Cup squad and the 2010 World Cup squad that was controversially knocked out of the quarter-finals by Luis Suarez and Uruguay.

Not taken to Brazil in 2014, Paintsil had this to say on Ghana and Africa’s performance at the tournament:

“We obviously didn’t do well from an African or Ghanaian perspective. In Ghana there were a lot of changes and there was a decision taken to take more youngsters which saw many of the senior players dropped. We all grow all the time and the experienced players are needed to push the younger players to be better. If you look at the European sides that have done well in Brazil, they all have their experienced players still doing the job for their country.”

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