TAMPA – When the Rowdies take the pitch on Saturday against FC Edmonton, it won’t be just another match for defender Takuya Yamada. On his 39th birthday, the Japanese international will be competing in his 100th official match with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the first player to reach that number in the modern era of the club. Over the years, Yamada has become a symbol of the Rowdies and the backbone of the team’s success on the field.
“It is an honor to reach 100 matches in my fourth year with the club,” stated Yamada. “When I came to Tampa Bay, I didn’t think I would reach this milestone. If it was up to me, I would play 1,000 matches for this club.”
The defender joined the Rowdies for the 2010 inaugural season and played 30 matches in his first season with the club. The following year, Yamada would play in 25 league matches which included the Rowdies‘ first playoff appearance since its return in 2010.
“Yama is the ultimate professional on and off the field, and has been a consistent leader for this team since day one,” said Rowdies CEO and General Manager Andrew Nestor. “I really can’t say enough about Yama. We all have so much respect for him as a person and as a player, and I hope he remains a part of the club in the future.”
Current Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill joined the team for the 2011 NASL Season and he immediately recognized that Yamada’s experience would pay dividends on the field.
“He has always given more than 100% in practice and on gameday,” commented Hill. “I admire his passion and commitment for the game, something all the younger players on the squad look up to. I have met very few players that perform at a high level consistently and Yama is one of those few.”
His breakout year for the Rowdies was in 2012, playing every single regular season minute and earning a place in the NASL Best XI. Yamada played a total of 30 NASL matches and two U.S. Open Cup matches that season, becoming the backbone of the 2012 NASL Championship squad.
“Even though I missed the final last year, it was still my best memory as a Rowdies player. I had a great regular season and I was very happy that I could play my part in helping win the championship.”
With 12 regular season matches and one U.S. Open Cup appearance in 2013, Yamada is now at 99 official matches with the green and gold. The total includes official NASL regular season and playoff matches and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup matches only. This coming Saturday will be a special moment for the former Tokyo Verdy star, as he will be honored in front of the fans that have supported him since his arrival.
“It is a fantastic achievement to reach 100 official matches with this club,” said Rowdies Executive Vice President and Technical Director Perry Van Der Beck. “Yama came to us in 2010 and has always looked to help the players around him. His experience and knowledge of the game is second to none but he continuously looks for ways to improve his own playing abilities.”
Prior to joining the Rowdies, Yamada played at Sagan Tosu in the Japan Professional Football League during the 2009 season where he had 43 appearances and six goals. He began his professional soccer career in the J. League with Tokyo Verdy in 1997 making 235 appearances scoring 22 goals over eight years. His excellent performance earned him four caps for the Japanese national team from 2003 to 2004.
Yamada’s ongoing career with the Rowdies is a clear example of what this club stands for. The Rowdies are rich in tradition and history, something Yamada has been part of since his first match in 2010. The club will recognize Yamada’s dedication to the Rowdies prior to this Saturday’s match against FC Edmonton at Al Lang Stadium. To purchase tickets, call (813)287-1539 or click here.