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

  • text by Yoichi Igawa
  • photo by Manabu Takahashi

"To be honest, I found it a little strange," Simao said drily. His tone and voice were still the same though, mellow and happy, and reminded me of the teatime, which is very popular in his country. In Maputo, the capital of Mozambique where he grew up, there are stunning coastlines as well. Those made him a broad-minded and relaxed person, and for such an individual life in Japan can be totally surprising, especially when it comes to time-keeping and scheduling.

"First of all, I was so surprised that the subway arrives precisely on time! I don't think that happens in any country. Also, in my opinion, Japanese people have to set their entire schedule before the day begins. You don't like sudden invitations, right? But soccer players like me want to call friends to go to lunch after training sessions. If I want to go out with you, maybe I have to let you know at least one week in advance, right?

"And the way they respect others was shocking to me. Of course it is good manners and shows values, but for me it is a little too much. For example, I want to speak loudly ? that is natural for me ? on the subway or in a restaurant, but there is nobody doing so. Then I thought I must follow the custom and be quiet.

"It's different at the training ground or stadium where you can talk loudly though I couldn't speak Japanese at all at the time, so that was difficult too. But luckily, my teammates at Vegalta were very welcoming. They accepted me as I am and said, 'Simao, you can speak loudly if you want. Scream if you want!'"

With that help, Simao started showing his real ability to become the indispensable cornerstone of Vegalta Sendai's defense.

(To be continued)