Outgoing S'pore football coach Tatsuma Yoshida: 'I know I will miss the boys. I will miss S'pore.'

The Japanese has emerged as a fan favourite having put together a team that plays attacking football.

Belmont Lay | December 29, 2021, 02:39 PM

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Tatsuma Yoshida has quit as head coach of the Singapore national football team.

The 47-year-old Japanese had a good run with the Lions the past two-and-a-half years.

Despite his short run as head coach, Yoshida, a former football player, has emerged as a fan favourite in Singapore.

Made Lions play attacking football

He is credited for bringing back the belief in the national football team, following the valiant effort shown by the squad in reaching the Suzuki Cup semi-finals via playing possession-based attacking football that kept the goals coming.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced Yoshida's sudden and inopportune resignation on Dec. 28, following the Suzuki Cup exit, which many hailed as a triumph for local sports, and which ironically meant that the Japanese was quitting while on a high despite the team losing.

Showed humility and personal touch

The soft-spoken coach, who fronted media interviews in victory and defeat, is also fondly remembered for always assuming responsibility for the national team and ensuring his personal touch, especially on matters of accountability.

Following the 2-4 loss to Indonesia in the Suzuki Cup semi-finals in extra time following controversial refereeing, Yoshida accepted the defeat with humility.

Speaking after the match, Yoshida said: "The referee is the referee. They say foul, it's a foul. They say red card, red card."

"We have to accept it, it's football."

Apologised and took blame for losses

After losing 4-0 to Palestine in June 2021 in a 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match, Yoshia personally apologised to Singapore fans.

Two days later, he fronted another media interview and said he was to blame when Singapore suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Uzbekistan.

Gave country his reasons during exit interview

His humility was evident even in his exit interview, where he spoke in English -- Singapore's lingua franca --to address the media and Singaporeans to account for his departure, which he attributed to a "very, very, very personal reason".

Yoshida said he would like to return to his family in Japan to his wife and two daughters, aged 11 and 14.

He added that the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented him from meeting them.

He also let on that he has other offers in football, but did not elaborate on them.

Yoshida's contract will be mutually terminated on Dec. 31, 2021.

His contract was scheduled to last until December 2022.

He will leave Singapore on Jan. 5, 2022.

Before publicly announcing his departure, The Straits Times reported that the head coach had spoken about his decision with the Lions, whom he said are "almost like his sons".

In the exit interview with the media, Yoshida said: "I know I will miss the boys. I will miss Singapore. But I had to make decision."

You can watch the interview in full here.

Here is a transcript of what he said:

The reason, is very, very, very personal reason. I made a decision as a father. I have two daughters. And as a husband. Sure, everybody wants to see their family. I also.

But I know, I understand as a professional coach and I lead one of the country national team, so I always try to give my 100 per cent.

One year ago, I had several options to go back to Japan, to go overseas. But I can't say which country. I intended to go back to Japan -- almost I made the decision.

And for my family, because of Covid, I tried to bring my family last year -- last April, but impossible because of Covid.

And so after eight months past, I got some offer.

But present team, and FAS general secretary Yazeen Buhari... How many times, I forgot but many times, a lot, called me and texted me, "We need you."

So my mind was changed by their effort, their emotional speech.

Even though it's a very, very, very personal reason, they accepted. It's proof our relationship is forever.

I know I will miss the boys. I will miss Singapore. But I had to make decision.

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