Ex-Japan star Santos set for Brazil homecoming

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Group F Japan v Brazil - World Cup 2006

Former international Alessandro Santos will return to his hometown of Maringa to play for local team Maringa FC, according to Globo.

After coming to Japan in 1994 at the age of 16, Santos enrolled in Meitoku Gijuku High School and began his pro career with J-League co-founders Shimizu S-Pulse. The midfielder was named the league’s Player of the Year in 1999, and took Japanese citizenship in 2001 in order to play for the .

In addition to participating in Japan’s 2002 and 2006 World Cup squads, Santos was a key figure in league titles for Urawa Reds in 2006 and Nagoya Grampus in 2010. Save for a season-long loan to Red Bull Salzburg in 2007-08, the 37-year-old has played the entirety of his professional career in the J-League.

“I’m happy to be back and defending Maringa’s colors,” Santos told Globo. “It’s been 21 years so it will take time to adjust, but I hope to build a good relationship with my teammates.”