Given that there have (up to now) been 16 players and staff released this year, it is pretty time consuming to do a farewell speech for each of them. But Tatsuya Arai deserves a special mention.
Arai originally came in on loan from near neighbours Nagoya Grampus and took a while to get settled. When he did get settled, he formed a decent partnership with Kosuke Kitani, one that helped FC Gifu avoid relegation in 2013.
But mention Tatsuya Arai to most FC Gifu supporters and one word will come out of their mouths: Matsumoto.
Back on April 14, 2013, FC Gifu headed to Matsumoto Yamaga’s Alwin Stadium without a win nor a goal in their first seven (yes, SEVEN) J2 games. At half time, with Matsumoto leading 1-0 thanks to an incredibly lucky goal, it looked like we were in for more of the same. Around the 70th minute, then coach Koji Gyotoku made the strange decision to replace full back Arata Sugiyama with Arai, who is a centre back. Almost everyone looked at each other with puzzlement: “Why are we bringing on another defender?!” etc.
Then, in the 79th minute, Kazuki Someya put a cross in from the left and Arai rose like a true striker and bulleted a header into the top corner. Cue scenes of amazement, relief, joy, and incredulity amongst the supporters. As if it needed to get any better, Arai then scored another – this time from close range – to put FC Gifu 2-1 up. It was an amazing turn of events, and one game that I’ll never forget attending.
Thanks Tatsuya. I hope that when you recover from your injury you can continue your career with success. We’ll never forget that afternoon in Matsumoto!