Saturday night marked a historic match for Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada, as on his 39th birthday he played in his 100th official match with the club. Minutes after walking onto the pitch, Ralph’s Mob began to display their tifo, starting with a 40' x 24' Japanese flag that would cover their whole section. Immediately after, they raised a 10-foot image of Yamada and two banners reading “Mr. Rowdies” and “100th Game”.
“I haven’t seen a Japanese flag of that size in the U.S. before,” said Yamada. “It was a very emotional moment for me and my family. All the support they have given me these years means so much to me.”
In the midst of all the emotion, it was the club’s turn to recognize the Japanese defender. Rowdies Owner David Laxer, CEO/General Manager Andrew Nestor and Executive Vice President/Technical Director Perry Van Der Beck presented Yamada a plaque honoring his 100th official match with the Rowdies. In his years with the organization Yamada has become a symbol of the Rowdies and the backbone of the team’s success on the field.
Prior to the coin toss, Rowdies Captain Frankie Sanfilippo offered the armband to the Rowdies defender. The Japanese international captained the Rowdies on Saturday night, becoming the first player to reach 100 official matches in the modern era of the club.
“It’s an honor to play alongside Yama,” explained Sanfilippo. “Since I arrived at the club, Yama has always found a way to help out in every way possible. He is a true leader both on and off the field and I am grateful to have him on our team.”
The “Legend”, as he is referred to by teammates, has produced at a high level consistently since his arrival to the match. Saturday night was a testament to this, as Yamada was able to control Edmonton’s offense, particularly in the second half when the Eddies relied on their quick counterattack to try to steal the three points from Al Lang.
“It was such a special moment for me," commented Yamada. “To play my 100th match in front of our home fans made me so happy. I want to thank everyone for all the tributes they made for me on Saturday.”
Yamada will make it 101 matches this weekend, as the Rowdies visit the 2013 NASL Spring champions, Atlanta Silverbacks, on Saturday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET. A week later the Rowdies will host the Carolina RailHawks at home on Saturday, September 7 with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information call (813) 287-1539 or click here.