Monday, 25 January 2010

Agent Orange Reports: Masato Saito

It was announced a couple of weeks ago, but nobody really saw it until the Fan Festa on Sunday. Masato Saito, a man born in Saitama, raised in Kanto school football and signed to a company contract with NTT, hung up his boots and left the stage. The only continuous link between NTT football, JFL Ardija, J2 Ardija and J1 Ardija will no longer don the orange as a professional footballer. It was a nice ceremony, simple, funny and a little sad. He cried, which is fitting because most of his adult life has been centered around the team and the stadium.

Something about the whole thing was a bit strange though. There were no messages that I could discern from guys who played with him before, like Daisuke Tomita or Hiroshi Morita or Toninho. It was really surprising not to see Seiichiro Okuno, who was last seen celebrating Masa's signature goal in the final moments of 2007. You compare it to the year and a half of tributes and celebrations for Hiroshi Nanami and it seems so... understated.

Omiya has had players who were bigger than Masa. Stronger than Masa. Faster than Masa. There have been players who have been able to do miraculous things with their dribble (not enough). Guys with masterful free kicks and guys who had the ability to score (not enough again). There have been players who were more vocal. In short, players who have been just more.

Nobody, however, has been more Omiya. A player born in Saitama, raised in Saitama, worked his entire life in Saitama and retired in Saitama, swathed in Orange. A player lacking in most areas, except hard work and determination. A player who on rare occasions pulled out magnificent moments. Has there ever been another player who embodied everything about their team more? Masa Saito is Omiya Ardija and he left the way he played: quietly, effectively and all out.

I doubt we'll see another one like him... but there's always hope.



Furtho 26 January 2010 at 04:17  

Apparently Yoshiyuki and Kota among others both attended a large party that was held for Masa after the Fan Festa. Tomita couldn't go, but sent a letter.

Furtho 27 January 2010 at 04:04  

Daigo also attended the party.

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