Whatever happened to: Fábio Paím?

Chelsea fans would be forgiven for forgetting Fábio Paím, or even not knowing who he is. He never played a first-team match for the Blues in his four-month stint. But his story was too interesting to ignore.

The End of a Bright Start

The Portuguese winger came through the Sporting academy that saw the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, João Moutinho and Nani progress to the Premier League. Ronaldo even once claimed, “If you think I’m good, just wait until you see Fábio Paím.”

Formula One fans will recognise that curse, with legend Ayrton Senna making the same bold – and ultimately incorrect – statement about his nephew Bruno.

Aged 19 when Paím joined Chelsea on loan from Sporting in 2008, he had already made 41 appearances for Portugal’s youth national teams from U16 to U20 level. However his youth pedigree didn’t carry over to his senior career.

Paím started the season in Chelea’s U21 team and played just one match in the PL Reserve League South team before being sent back to parent club Sporting.

Paím admitted in an interview with Sabado Sport in 2017 that he lacked patience at Chelsea. He wanted to be playing for the first team, but with Joe Cole, Florent Malouda, Deco and Salomon Kalou occupying the spots on the wings, Paím was never going to break through. Paím revealed he felt he was above U21 level, and was unwilling to wait it out at Chelsea.

Read: Whatever happened to: Marko Marin?

The Journeyman Grind

Once back at Sporting, Paím was loaned out twice more within Portugal before his contract at Sporting expired. Just three years after being deemed good enough to be on Chelsea’s list, he was signed to Portuguese third tier club Torreense.

With hopes of playing for Portugal’s senior national team fading fast, Paím headed to play in the Angolan league. Paím was eligible to play for Angola’s national team through descent and was pushing for selection for their 2012 AFCON squad. Unfortunately for Paím, he was left out of the squad and remains uncapped at national level.

With his Angolan adventure over, Paím returned to the Portuguese third tier with Futebol Benfica in 2012. After just two matches in Benfica, he was away again. This time he went on a series of moves that took him to Qatar, Malta, Lithuania and Luxembourg before returning to Portugal in 2016.

Off-field Irregularities

Away from football, Paím’s life brings up some odd stories. Firstly, his son. Paím and his girlfriend wanted to call him Jaden, after Jaden Smith. However the Portuguese civil registry blocked it. Legally, his son’s name is Fábio but they still call him by Jaden.

On the career scrap heap at the age of 29, Paím continued to play amateur football in his native Portugal until 2019. 2017 saw him take a brief break from playing to appear on Portuguese reality TV show “Love on Top”. He didn’t tell his coach or his teammates that he was going on the show.

In August 2019, Paím was arrested for possession of narcotics. Portuguese police had been following him for a number of months before his arrest on suspicion of his involvement in drugs trafficking.

This wasn’t the first time Paím had been in trouble for his conduct. His Luxembourg club Union Kayl-Tétange had released him for “unprofessional behaviour”. Paím also had allegations of rape and public masturbation prior to the drug conviction. He was acquitted of both charges. The charge of trafficking heroin and cocaine was dropped in September due to the evidence being illegally obtained via wiretap.

In the 2017 interview with Sabado Sport, Paím said he was using his time away from professional football to go back and complete school with a view to move into coaching or directing. Perhaps though with his criminal ties, a return to football might be too far gone.

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