Three years ago local football heavyweights New Radiant Sports Club was in the process of amassing a strong squad for the season to come. A Spanish agent, Angel Ruiz was the catalyst behind the marquee signings of Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon and midfielder Kandela – laying the foundation of a special foundation with Maldives football.
“Three years ago the first time in Maldives I started to work with New Radiant. Oscar Bruzon - the coach, and Candela - midfielder came with my collaborations”
“Thanks to the work of Oscar Bruzon and Gallardo with New Radiant. These guys with that club did good work and people trust me. It built the reputation for me in Maldives, since three years ago we always wanted to find opportunity in Maldives”
Unlike most pro footballers, Ruiz who played in the Thai league, did not harbor ambitions of becoming a coach after hanging up his boots in 2013. Instead, he chose a different path. A football agent who could represent the undiscovered talents he knew existed in Asian football.
So in two short years, ‘Ruiz and Gomez’ became the mediator to bring in foreign footballers to Maldivian clubs.
In addition to Candela and coach Oscar, Ruiz’s agency mediated the deals for forward Kipson and Gotor for New Radiant, while also negotiated deals for Italian keeper Mauro Boechio for Maziya Sports Club and Joaquin and Pedro Henrique for Victory Sports Club.
This season, Ruiz’s agency has already closed deals for two players who would representing Super United Sports (SUS) and Club Valencia respectively.
According to Ruiz, Maldives is no different to other countries when it comes to such deals involving foreign players. However, he feels the relationship breakdowns because Maldivian clubs, on most instances offer unsustainable and exorbitant wages, recalling the fallout with Victory and New Radiant after a successful beginning.
“[When problems arise] first we try to have patience. But sometimes it becomes difficult because players are without salary. We try to solve the issue with the club. But sometimes it’s very difficult because we don’t want to fight with the club. But sometimes we have to go to FIFA [to settle the wage dispute].”
"I think they [the other clubs] have to copy the Maziya model. Because it’s the normal way. You can’t offer salaries that are unsustainable. Then you will have problems like New Radiant or Victory."
With a primary focus in Asia, Ruiz has made great strides over the past few years. As such, in the past five years, Ruiz’s agency has been behind multiple deals with foreign players now plying their trade in over a dozen different countries in Asia.
Despite the success and widening of his agency’s network, Ruiz still wants his association with Maldivian clubs to continue.
Ruiz is of the belief that there are technically gifted Maldivian footballers who can cut out in foreign leagues. And he is ready to help them venture beyond the shores of Maldivian football.
"Ashfaq and many players in Maziya and National Team like Umair, Sentey can play abroad. Maldives has players that can play abroad.”
For Maldivian clubs seeking foreign talent to boost their squads, Ruiz remains the perfect agent.
He can work around their sometimes-limited budget, to scour the market for the best talents to fit their specific squad needs.
Ruiz continues to mediate deals for footballers in the more demanding and richer leagues like Indonesia and Malaysia. He negotiated the deal for Bangladeshi heavyweights Bashundhara Kings to bring in Costa Rican forward Daniel Colindres – who starred for Costa Rica in the 2018 world cup. While the all time top goal scorer in the AFC Cup, Bienvenido Marañón is also on the books of Ruiz’s agency.
That’s what makes Ruiz and his agency unique. For Asian football clubs - no matter the size or budget, Ruiz remains the chief negotiator and the trusted link between them and the foreign talent scattered across the globe.