This is part two of the meet the players section in which I will I introduce the MYFC first team. However, in this post it will be more appropriate to call it ‘meet the player/managers’ as that is exactly what Toshihide Saito is!
Name: Toshihide Saito
Joined Fujieda: January 2009
2012 appearances (goals): 11 (0)
Born in April 20th 1973 in Shimizu, Saito went on to join his hometown club, S-Pulse, in 1996 and never looked back. A magnificent debut season in the J League saw his stock rise as he was named Rookie of the Year and was called up to the Japan national squad. He went on to claim 17 caps for the Blue Samurai and a further 244 league matches for his club side in a 12 year spell with the club.
In 2009, after a two year loan spell with Shonan Bellmare, Saito joined the newly reformed Fujieda MYFC. After one season as a player, he was appointed successor to Kunishige Kamamoto who left his role as manager of the side after just one season. However, unlike most players turned managers, Saito continued to play an active role on and off the pitch.
Saito’s playing ability as well as his new found managerial expertise were a recipe for success as MYFC won two promotions in three seasons to find themselves where they are now, the JFL.
His skills off the pitch, however, have not been enough for him to hang up his boots just yet and at the age of 39 he is still filling in Fujieda’s defence and even made 11 appearances last season. The defenders international experience proving vital as a calming influence at the back.
This season will be Saito’s fourth season in charge of MYFC and again he his registered as a player. You don’t see many player/managers around these days but the ex-S-Pulse player is certainly proving to be one of the successes in a redundant role of modern day football.