Simao Mate talks about the life in Japan. “It was a dream for my wife”.

  • text by Yoichi Igawa
  • photo by Manabu Takahashi

"Well, I had the chance to come to Japan six years ago (when at Shandong)," Simao said. "I ended up taking an offer from Spain instead, but my wife was very interested in Japan. She is Italian and I met her when I played in Greece. In Italy and Greece, Japanese food is very popular and my wife has good knowledge of Japan as well. She repeated many times, 'Let's go to Japan if you have the chance again!' And you know the world speaks very highly of Japan, especially in recent years, so I had been interested in Japan as well. So it was a dream for my wife and me to live in Japan."

Simao continued gently and peacefully.

"And now, the dream came true after six years! It wasn't only my wife but I also wanted to come. Of course, there is no guarantee of success, but I wanted to come anyway and see how things went.

"I think most professional soccer players (Simao calls the sport 'soccer' like a Japanese, not 'football') are motivated by new challenges. I like challenges too, and my career has been built by them. I went to Europe at a young age and jumped into different countries and cultures. I have been a foreigner everywhere I have played, but have had many interesting experiences as a result. That also means you can be open-minded."

Although Simao talked in a unique singing flow, he confessed to having slightly struggled to adjust to life in Japan. The stats show as much, with him only starting three J1 games up until the 13th round of games at the end of May.