FREDDY Gonzalez was supposed to be Loyola Meralco’s prized acquisition this season - a seasoned player expected to add offensive punch to the Sparks in the United Football League.
But after suffering an unfortunate left knee injury late February that is expected to sideline him for at least six months, the 35-year-old Filipino-Spanish striker is now trying to help his football team in other ways.
Aside from leading the Sparks in gym training, the former Pachanga owner is using his free time to good use by taking on the role, as he jokingly puts it, as the squad’s unofficial photographer.
“I’m a little bit bummed because I can’t help them really on the field. I try to do as much as I can in the gym and, you know, take pictures,” Gonzalez told Spin.ph while taking pictures on the sidelines at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig during the Sparks’ recent 4-2 win over PSG.
Incidentally, Gonzalez suffered his PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injury against PSG in their first-round meeting during a collision with PSG goalkeeper Reza Ataei, who’s also, by the way, not with the team anymore.
Without him, Gonzalez remains confident of the championship prospects of his team, which is also missing injured Korean starters Jang Jo Won and Park Min Ho.
“They’ve been able to adjust with all the injuries we’ve been having. That goes to show the depth of the squad, I guess. They’ve been able to adjust,” said Gonzalez, who was acquired by the Sparks at the start of the season after he sold Pachanga, a squad he led to the 2012 Division 2 title.
“Phil (Younghusband) is not too happy playing up front again because he got used to me playing there. But it’s part of being on a team; you got to be able to adjust and fit in the position you don’t necessarily play,” added the former national team strike star, considered one of the best players to ever don the country’s colors.
Gonzalez, who recently returned to the country after having surgery in the US five weeks ago, is hoping to make a comeback in time for the 2013 UFL Cup later in the year.
“We’ll see if I’ll be available for the UFL Cup ... there’s a possibility. Injuries like this, you got to really take it easy and let it heal properly otherwise, you’ll just screw it up even more,” he said.
For now, he is glad to take photos of his team.
“It’s like a big hobby of mine so I just figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. I can’t practice yet, except for rehab and going to the gym every day, so, you know, when there are games, I’ll take pictures,” said Gonzalez, whose family owns a handful of retail businesses, including a company that exclusively distributes Brazilian flip-flops brand Havaianas and Billabong in the country.
Asked how much his bazooka-sized camera costs, Gonzalez refused to give the exact amount, but gave a ball-park figure.
“It’s too expensive to bring up. It probably costs like a brand-new car ten years ago,” the affluent but low-profile entrepreneur said.