Simao Mate feels energy and love of the football fans in Japan. "They are the best"

  • text by Yoichi Igawa
  • photo by Manabu Takahashi

Simao Mate interview■Part 2■

Simao Mate playing for J1 club Vegalta SendaiSimao Mate playing for J1 club Vegalta Sendai"The standard of the J-League is higher than I imagined," Simao Mate said of his first impression of the league.

"I've played at the top level of soccer including La Liga and the Champions League, so I think I know what the highest level is. My impression is that the standard of the J-League is of course below those examples, but not that far. Honestly, I was surprised by the skills and pace of Japanese players."

In particular, the individual talent in both his team and the opposition was beyond his expectations.

"There are many players with big potential," Simao continued. "In general, the level of players' fitness is very high, and they can maintain it throughout the season, which is not easy. Overall their skills are also good, as well as their professionalism. They concentrate highly in every training session and match.

"At Vegalta, we have some exceptional players like Katsu (Katsuya Nagato, now at Kashima Antlers), Yoshiki (Matsushita), Hira (Yasuhiro Hiraoka) and so on. As for opponents, (Shinzo) Koroki of Urawa Reds, Yokohama F. Marinos' number 23 (Teruhito Nakagawa), and the number 16 of Vissel Kobe (Kyogo Furuhashi, now number 11) were very good players with pace and movement, and I struggled to cope with them."

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