Maheta Molango has vowed to listen and work for players as he takes over as chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association.
The former Brighton striker has replaced Gordon Taylor, to become the union’s first new chief executive in 40 years.
In an open letter to players the 38-year-old promised the organisation, who suffered criticism under Taylor’s long-term leadership, will meet their needs and outlined his vision for the PFA.
He wrote: “One principle will guide my leadership of our union, and it is this: the PFA belongs to the players. It should always be run on behalf of its members, for its members.
“I have begun my time at the PFA by speaking to members, our internal teams and a wide range of people from across football.
“I’ve been hearing about the issues that matter to them – asking what role the PFA can play and where we can do more. Most importantly, I’ve been making clear my desire to ensure that we work together. I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations.
“I know that the interests and needs of players are constantly changing. As your union, it is our responsibility to understand where, and how, we can best support you and represent you, whatever stage you are at in your career.
“To do this, we need your involvement. I want members to have greater opportunities for input into the work of the PFA. Recent changes to our structure, I believe, will support this, and I am personally committed to making sure your voices are heard and represented.”
Molango spent time at Brighton between 2004 and 2007 and also played for Lincoln, Oldham, Wrexham and Grays.
He is a qualified lawyer, fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, German and English, and was seconded to Atletico Madrid as legal counsel in 2015 – ahead of their 12-month transfer embargo in 2016.
In two windows he helped oversee 30 deals, including the sale of Mario Mandzukic to Juventus, Filipe Luiz’s return from Chelsea, Yannick Carrasco’s switch from Monaco and Antoine Griezmann’s new deal.
Previously a part-time scout for Charlton, he negotiated Mesut Ozil’s termination deal from Real Madrid ahead of his move to Arsenal in 2013.
“As a player in England, like you, I was a member of the PFA. The players’ union supported me, and I saw its value first-hand,” he continued.
“Having also played and worked in football in other countries as chief executive (at Real Mallorca) and lawyer, I’ve seen how well-regarded the PFA is and how widely it is recognised for the way it successfully represents players’ interests.
“The PFA has been central to a huge amount of positive and transformative change within football over the years – change that has benefitted members at every level of the game. This collective influence has been hard-won and it is something we must strive to protect.
“The impacts of the coronavirus have shown how important the PFA can be to defend your interests. The game – OUR game – is at a crossroads and the players should be at the centre of any discussion about the future of football.
“I join the PFA at a time of change, both for the union and within the game more widely. I take over the role of chief executive from Gordon Taylor, who led the PFA for over 40 years.
“Gordon achieved an enormous amount on behalf of members, and he deserves our thanks and recognition for his work and his commitment.”