After more than 220 league games in the orange shirt, Toninho is to leave Omiya Ardija and return to Brazil following the Albirex Niigata match at the end of the season. The big defender has been a stalwart and a regular at the heart of the Squirrels defence ever since his debut in 2001, a truly remarkable record when one considers the fly-by-night nature of many foreign players'arrangements with Japanese clubs.
Although some question marks have been raised about Toninho's fitness this year, he as club vice-captain has gone on to form a solid enough partnership with Yukio Tsuchiya in the centre of defence. He has also continued to chip in with his modest but regular contribution of goals, mostly although by no means always aggressive headers from set pieces. The departure of Toninho leaves a massive hole in the club and in the team, which Toshiya Miura's successor will need to fill as a matter of urgency.