Much-traveled former A-League star Erik Paartalu could be heading to Iran as his next career stop.
By
Dave Lewis

Source:
SBS Exclusive
8 Feb 2017 - 6:30 PM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2017 - 6:38 PM

The 30-year-old one-time fringe Socceroos midfielder - who has had stints in China, Thailand, South Korea and Qatar - has turned down a couple of short-term A-League offers - to instead focus on Asia.

A free agent after parting with Qatari outfit Al Khairatiyat in December, the ex-Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City mainstay, is considering an offer from a leading Iranian team as he looks to get his career back into gear after a turbulent 12 months.

Currently back in Sydney with his family, Paartalu is anxious to resolve his future soon to forestall drifting into limbo.

"There are a few things in the offing but nothing I can say too much about at this stage," said Paartalu.

"There has also been interest from Thailand and Malaysia but I haven't been too keen to go down that path.

"I am trying to hold out for something in Japan, which would be a big preference, or maybe Korea again.

"But, yes, Iran is a possibility which I've been looking at also."

He has already knocked back one offer there, but isn't keen to remain inactive for much longer.

"In the next week or two I am going to have nail something down, and take it," he added.

"It's becoming a bit of an anxious wait, to be honest."

Paartalu's football life has been in a state of some upheaval since exiting Melbourne City midway through a four-year contract to join Korean heavyweight Jeonbuk Motors this time last year.

After a promising start he was mysteriously banished to oblivion and forced to train alone before negotiating a release after six months, pending his move to Qatar where, despite playing regularly, the club failed to fulfill their financial obligations, and he was on his way again after just three months.

After his nightmare in Korea, Paartalu believes there is unfinished business in the K-League and would welcome another shot.

"Things didn't work out there ... I think I was made the scapegoat for a Champions League loss in Vietnam," he said.

"After that the coach didn't speak to me again and I didn't train with the first team again. I trained by myself for months and the club simply wanted to push me out.

"I still, though, want to go back to Korea and show that I am a player."

He wouldn't, though, consider a return to the Middle East, explaining: "Qatar was a good experience in many ways but the way football is played over there, unless you are getting paid a fortune, isn't a rewarding feeling.

"Players think they are superstars playing in empty stadiums, just taking the money. It's a dirty sort of a culture. 

"I was at a pretty poor team.

"I did pretty well there but they started playing me up front ... that's how bad the team was.

"There a few games were I played as a target man. Then they said they wanted to get a striker and to move me on.

"The trouble was they only paid me half my salary for three months (before a resolution was reached)."

In the past 12 months, Paartalu has played just 20 games, and he knows people may be querying his recent past.

"That may be the case," he added. "But I am sure something will come up."