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.
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.
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.
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.