'I want to emulate Pienaar' - Genino
Posted: 22 February 2019 Time: 12:30
The latest South African talent that's bypassed the PSL to Europe, described as a midfielder with 'incredible vision like Steven Piennar', speaks to us exclusively about his exciting football journey.
Several players in the past have left our shores at an early age but haven't really kicked on in the manner the likes of Benni McCarthy and Pienaar did during their glittering careers that took them to the Premier League.
In the modern age of instant fame and social media, the burgeoning talents of today don't always find the correct guidance to fulfil their true potential.
But in this case, 20-year-old midfielder Genino Palace appears to be one with the correct support structure to be nurtured to the path of a successful career that has so far taken him from Westbury, Johannesburg to SC Braga in Portugal.
After spending four years at Stars of Africa Academy, which produced the likes of May Mahlangu, Tokelo Rantie, Suprise Ralani, Thibang Phete to name but a few, Farouk Khan, who oversaw the midfielders' development from the age of 12, believes he has all the tools at his disposal to 'go really far'.
"Genino? He's a huge talent, one for the future, gifted playmaker with incredible vision much like Steven Piennar who also hailed from Westbury, but it's up to him what he makes of his talent," Khan tells this website.
Palace, who was snapped up by the Portuguese title-chasing club during the off-season, has sought to explain how he ended up at the same club as compatriot Luther Singh without the knowledge of the public and the media.
"Farouk told my agent I was ready to go because I excelled over the last two seasons, so he organised a trial for me at Braga B, Luther [Singh] was there at the time, but I didn't make it," Palace reveals in an exclusive interview with KickOff.com.
"They said I needed to gain a bit more experience in the European football environment and that's when I went to the fourth division with Sacavenense.
"I stayed there for one season, played about 26 games and went for a second assessment where the Braga coaching staff decided I was ready to be signed."
Palace further explains that nobody has been made aware of him due to an agreement he made with his agent Nadime Mahmood.
"My agent and I deciced collectively to lay low and not let the public know beacuse we didn't feel like it was necessary and we were hoping that my talent would speak for itself, but unfortunately my season was disrupted by a serious injury.
"I was sent to train with the U23 side to get to grips with the club and I was given my debut, I think it was the last seven minutes of the game I received a very positive reception and I continued to train well but then the next week I tore my ligaments and meniscus."
Having suffered the injury in September last year, just a month after signing for the club, he admits the setback was untimely as he was starting to get the indication that the technical team were impressed by his rapid strides and integration with the U23 side.
"I went for an operation on the 28th of September but they're pushing me now for rehabilitation because the medical team feel like I'm almost ready to return to training after five months," Palace explains.
"I honestly didn't think I was coming there to be developed seriously and quickly like Luther [Singh] - as he had a reputation before joining the club.
"I thought I was brought in just to see how things work out but as I started training more with the team, starting pre-season matches, I became like part of the core group and the coach actually gave me assurances that I will play a key role in the team and I felt I was going to do very well."
With Singh currently excelling during his loan move at GD Chaves, his compatriot could not hide his admiration for the once-capped senior international, whom he cites along with Piennar as a major influence.
"I'm really inspired by Luther because I know his background, I know where he comes from and it's really inspiring how he rose above adversity to be where he is right now," Palace adds.
"Growing up from where I am, everyone, including myself, everyone wanted to be like Piennar because what he achieved in the game is legendary as someone from Westbury."