This Saturday will see a TML Legend play his last game in Japan. Raffa will be leaving Japan early next month with a heavy heart and heavier luggage! With 8 TML Division 1 titles and 5 FJ Cups, we can only hope he doesn't mind paying for the extra baggage costs. Raffa will be attending the End of Season Award Ceremony on the 30th June so please all come down and say goodbye.
Name: Raffaele De Marchi
Team: Hibernian FC
Position: Holding, defending midfielder
Number of years in the TML? more than 10 ?
What do you like about the TML? The games and the spirit are generally enough competitive to have fun, but not too much as to get carried away. And I like the social element. I remember a few years ago playing a crucial and very hard fought game for the title against International at the end of the seaon, and after it traveling and spending the night together with some of their players in Shibuya. Or last year just after an intense cup final against Pumas we were invited to join them to their party. There is really no team or single player in the league that I don't like.
Which player would you compare your style to? Because of my age, I have changed my style of playing so many times that it is difficult to answer this question. When I was a teenager, than in my 20s, than in my 30s, and now in my 40s....I had to change style many times in order to survive on the pitch...
Have you ever played for any other TML teams? If so who and how did you end up playing for .......? My first team in TML were the Swiss. Great team and amazing guys, then as well as today (we had a beautiful reunion of old Swiss players last November at YCAC, with former players coming literally from all over the world). I remember I had just arrived in Japan and I was playing futsal with some Italian friends in Jingumae, and after our game I was "scouted" by the then Swiss captain (Kirk Neureiter) who was playing after us. I returned the favor to Kirk a few years later when I encouraged him to join the Hibs.
What is the highest level of football you have played at? In Italy 5th division, which was the first league just below the professional ones. But that was around 25 years ago, football has changed a lot since then, even several rules have changed !
What makes your club special? I am old, I am not fast, I don't dribble, I don't make assists and I don't score goals. And I play for a team which keeps winning games. There is surely something special in Hibs!
Where was your first ever TML match and what are your memories? A 9am kick-off game in Oi-Futo, dirt ground. Half of the ground was wet and muddy, the other half dry and very hard. I never understood how that was possible, but I predicted that would have been my first and last game in TML. The prediction turned out to be wrong, and during the years the quality of the grounds has improved dramatically.
Favorite TML venue and why? The ones which are not too far from Tokyo. YCAC is nice, easily reachable and good facilities.
Best player you have played with? So many good players, and some former and current Hibs' players match the quality of the players I played with in Italy. Just to mention one, I was 19-20 and close to me at midfield there was a guy with an amazing technique, completely two-footed and with kicking and passing abilities that I think many professional players can only dream of. My job was very easy, just recovering the ball, giving it to him and enjoying watching what he was doing with the ball. But the guy was a bit crazy and may be lacking discipline, he had a very short time with a professional team and returned back home very quickly.
Best player you have faced? May be a few years ago at the Hong Kong over-35 tournament. I don't remember his name, but he was a Dutch midfielder who had just retired from professional football and had played also in Premier League during his career. Games at that tournament last only 14 minutes, but because of the heat and because of this guy I had incredibly long and painful 14 minutes. I could probably touch the ball 2 times during the whole game.
Who is your best mate in the team? I really have a great relationship with all of my teammates, we are a solid group. That has been an additional reason for me to keep playing and spending 6-7 hours of my weekends to go to TML games. I have to say that Luciano (and his beautiful kids) and Mike are the ones who have always waited for me to finish taking my shower. Without them I would have often traveled back to Tokyo alone after games.
Funniest moment before, during or after a TML match? 10 years of TML, so many funny moments!
Any other comments? When I moved to Japan I was 32 and I had already stopped playing 4-5 years before, certainly I did not expect to start my favourite hobby again, and doing it for more than 10 years. This is thanks to TML, or should I say this is TML's fault ?