Most of us know Arata Sugiyama from his performances on the right side of FC Gifu’s defence. He always puts in 100%, even if his performances aren’t always of a high standard. But, whatever. He comes across as a genuinely nice guy who is only concerned with what is best for the team.

Recently, he went up in my estimation when he released a book chronicling his efforts to stay in football despite being diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes while at Ventforet Kofu. The book, titled: 絶望なんかで夢は死なない (Eng: Dreams don’t die, even in bad times – and that might be a pretty loose translation) takes you through his career whilst trying to deal with that disease.

Even just a cursory understanding of what diabetes is leads you to understand that becoming, and remaining, a professional footballer while having the disease is something of a triumph. Type 1 diabetes requires regular shots of insulin throughout the day, because the body can’t create its own. Diabetes also requires a delicate balancing act with regards to blood sugar levels: too low and you risk light-headedness and fainting, too high can lead to permanent organ damage.

Whether or not people rate him as a player, and I’ve had my fair share to say about him this year, people cannot question his commitment or his passion for the game. He probably has a unique outlook on his profession, the kind of outlook that can only occur when it has been in danger of being taken away from you (bear in mind that, according to the latest study done in 2005, Type-1 Diabetes occurs at a rate of 1-100,000 people).

Arata Sugiyama – I applaud you.

The book can be ordered on Amazon (click here for the link) or in bookstores across Japan.

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