Them and us – Gino Padula (Latics and Queens Park Rangers)

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Gino Padula was born on 11th July 1976 in Argentina.  He is a defender who usually operated on the left and he started his career with his local outfit River Plate in 1996 before moving on to Hurucan the following year.

Twelve months later he played for his first European club, Xerez in Spain. Gino, who was nicknamed ‘Diego’ by the Latics faithful, started his career in England modestly with Bristol Rovers  before a move to Walsall on 12th November1999.  He made his debut on the same day in a home 0-0 draw against Port Vale and his second game for the club was an away game at Queens Park Rangers!  After making 23+2 league appearances without scoring his next port of call was at Springfield Park.

He arrived on a Bosman free transfer on Thursday 20th July 2000 and was new manager Bruce Rioch’s first signing for the club.  He had left the Midlands based club citing a lack of ambition as his reason for joining Latics.  On leaving Walsall and prior to signing for Latics he had undergone failed trials at Derby County, Dundee United and his former club Bristol Rovers and maybe they saw something in him that Latics didn’t becuase when the new season started he was injured!

He made his league debut on 12th September 2000 against Peterborough United as an 88th minute substitute for Brian McLaughlin in a game that Latics won 1-0.  Seven days previously he featured in a 4-1 League Cup victory over Scunthorpe United as a 68th minute substition for Kevin Sharp.  He made just 2-2 league appearances for Latics without scoring, although he did score once for the club against his former club, Walsall in a 2-1 defeat in the LDV Vans trophy.

He was released by new manager Steve Bruce on the 21st May 2001 along with Carl Bradshaw, Staurt Balmer, Gareth Griffiths, Peter Beagrie, Darren Sheridan and current gahher Roberto Martinez!  He returned to Argentina for a year and then he resurfaced again at Queens Park Rangers in July 2002 after being signed by then manager Ian Holloway, his former Bristol Rovers manager.

His debut for Rangers came on was an away game at Barnsley which the London outfit lost 1-0.  He became a cult hero at Loftus Road and he made an impressive 83+9 league appearances for the Hoops during which he netted four times.  After two years he moved to his last English club, Nottingham Forest for whom he played just three league games before leaving by ‘mutual consent’.

He then spent a short spell playing in France with Montpellier, before winding up his career in America with Columbus Crew.  He is now running a Soccer Academy in Ohio called the Schelleto and Padula Soccer Academy.

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