Gino Padula was not only the starting left back for the Massive Champions of 2008, but the Argentine has stayed in Columbus after his playing days were finished, helping local kids learn the game through his Sporting Padula Soccer Academy. As a Crew fan just like you or I, he had a lot to say about the triumphant culmination of the #SaveTheCrew battle.
On it finally being the day where MLS and new ownership confirmed that the Crew had been 100% officially saved:
I went to the presentation today. It was huge news not just for the soccer community, but for the entire city. It’s very important for the club to stay here because just three months ago, I think everybody thought the Crew was leaving, but now we keep the Crew in the city and we are looking forward to seeing the Crew every weekend in Columbus.
On the fan-led #SaveTheCrew movement:
Listen, I was a player for the Crew, but after I retired, I became a Crew fan. I know how every single Crew fan was feeling last year, and how exciting things are this year. When the news came out last year that we maybe move to Austin, the entire soccer community was devastated. We were very sad because our club…I can talk right now as a Crew fan, but when you play for the club and have great moments with the club and have a great relationship with the fans…seeing them feel worse and worse and worse, because I know how the fans are feeling….they love the club and the reason they have this success is the special #SaveTheCrew movement, and they were there from day one. They never gave up. They tried to meet as many people as they could. It’s something that we need to appreciate. I was involved in the film (Sean Kelly’s in-progress documentary), and I talk to all the former Crew players and we were all on the same page. We were very sad because we feel part of the Crew family.
On Dr. Edwards joining with the Haslams and being part of the ownership group:
I think the Crew cannot have a better person than Dr. Edwards because he loves the club, he’s from Columbus, and he knows how important the club is for the city. And he’s an amazing person. He’s very humble and he’ll always want what’s best for the club. He’s ambitious and he would like to move the club to the next step. I think with Dr. Edwards, they will do it the right way. I love him as a person because I knew him from 2008 after I came here for the Crew and he was amazing with all of the players. The most important thing is that you cannot find anyone better than Dr. Edwards in the city to run the club.
On being a Crew fan now that he’s retired:
I try to be around as much as I can. I run my soccer academy, so sometimes on weekends it is hard to be around, but when I can go to the Crew games, I go with other former Crew players to meet the fans. Today was a big day. It was an amazing day for the city and amazing day for the Crew community because we couldn’t imagine what happened (as recently as) three months ago. I remember when we had the Crew Legend game, we had the last game of the season and made the playoffs, one journalist asked me, “What do you expect from the Crew next year? Can they win MLS?” I said, “I don’t think anybody cares if we win MLS Cup because we already won MLS Cup with the news that we are saving the club. I think this win is bigger than any title.”
Of course, now we need to look forward and we need to support the Crew. The Crew have very good fans. The fans and the community need to be very involved with the Crew now and we need to support the Crew. We need to try to have 20,000 people at the stadium every game if we can.
On alumni being part of the Crew family:
I was talking to Dr. Edwards and he wants to try to bring family to the Crew. This is something that was missing in the last three or four years. As a former player, I feel more involved in the last two months than I did in the last five years, to be honest. I feel very glad. I feel very happy. I can’t wait to start the season and to see how the Crew is doing this year.
And it’s not just me. I meet with the 2008 players, and I meet with former players like Dante Washington, and everyone feels the same way. We feel like we weren’t part of the club for the last four or five years, and right now, the Crew need us and we will do anything we can do to help the Crew and promote the soccer to help the club. We will be there to support the club. We are very close with Dr. Edwards and we know him and he knows us. It is very important. I think the atmosphere at the club has changed already. You can see the faces. I went to the meeting today and everyone was smiling. That was amazing.
A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.