I’ve already posted about Kosuke Kitani’s retirement from the game, but the announcement of Atsushi Mio’s retirement came a bit late, but also took me a bit by surprise.

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Mio is only 31, but he missed most of this season with a knee ligament injury and he felt he couldn’t put his knee through the rigour of another J.League season. He joined Gifu in the winter of 2012/2013 from Gainare Tottori and proceeded to play a key role in the team during the 2013 season. Often playing on the left wing or in an advanced midfield position, he lacked the top speed to be a really dangerous attacking threat. But his constant energy, allied to experience and his set piece delivery made him a key cog in the machine.

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In all honesty, he probably should have scored more goals given the quality of his left footed deliveries (I’m not certain if he scored for Gifu) but he was a very popular member of the squad and his professionalism was admired by all those inside the Gifu dressing room.

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His career peak was probably at Gainare Tottori where he helped lead them out of the JFL and into J2, before helping them establish themselves as J2 team. A sign of the affection that he is still held in in Tottori came after Gifu beat them 4-3 in 2013. Despite the defeat, Gainare fans shouted for him to come to the home end and gave him a huge ovation, something that visibly moved Atsushi.

What comes next for Mio? I’m not sure, but I dare say a coaching role is on the horizon for him.  He is vastly experienced despite his relatively young age, and has appeared over 300 times across the J.Leagues. It would be a shame for that not to be passed on. I was lucky enough to speak to him in person, shake his hand, say thanks and wish him a very happy retirement.

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美尾選手、本当にお疲れ様でした!

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