30 year-old ‘Saka’ is the first Japanese player to play in Gibraltar’s Premier Division.

Gibraltar — Europa Point FC is thrilled to have signed top Japanese player Shoehei Sakamoto    (‘Saka’) –  for the upcoming season, making the 30-year-old the first-ever Japanese footballer to play in the Gibraltar Premier Division. The hugely talented Tokyo-born attacking midfielder has played for several top Spanish teams and scored 14 goals last season whilst playing at right-back,  but at one point during his career ‘Saka’ was forced to hang up his boots to return to Japan due to family issues.

Now he is back in Europe as Gibraltar’s star player. Saka says joining Europa Point FC – a club specialising in developing talented players to reach their maximum potential  – represents a unique opportunity to help the club achieve their dream of playing Champions League football.

Europa Point FC’s management is now inviting sponsorship opportunities to Japanese companies and brands who wish to build a lasting relationship with the club at this pivotal and exciting point for Gibraltan football. To join Europa Point FC’s exciting journey with ‘Saka’ please contact Andrew Pritchard on andy@europapointfc.com

Investment and interest in Gibraltan football has grown significantly since Gibraltar was awarded full UEFA membership in 2013. This means the national team can now compete in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,  UEFA European Championships as well as the UEFA Nations League.

Gibraltar’s National League teams, meanwhile, can compete to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League with the top three teams able to earn considerable amounts by competing in Europe and in the 2019/2020 season Gibraltan teams have four chances in the UEFA competitions to secure a place in the Champions and Europa league.

Sporting infrastructure has also received a dramatic boost. The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) recently purchased the Rock’s iconic Victoria Stadium from the Gibraltar Government for £16.5m and is now investing a further £15m to transform it into state-of-the-art UEFA category 4 stadium capable of accommodating 8000 supporters and paving the way for local Gibraltan teams to play international games at home*. Further investment is being made by the Gibraltar Government in modernising and constructing sporting infrastructure around the Rock.  In addition the Government has also built a state-of-the-art University and accommodation at Europe’s most southerly point, Europa Point.

Andrew Pritchard, Europa Point FC’s ambitious proposed new owner who has spent the last few months bringing top coaches, talent and processes to the club to place it on a winning footing said: “Saka is the ultimate professional who is teetotal  and laser focussed on his health and fitness to ensure it is always at its peak. The coaching staff and I as well as all the players are excited to welcome ‘Saka’,  his  talent and experience to Europa Point FC.”

He added: “There are huge commercial opportunities in Gibraltar and Gibraltan football which is developing at a lightning pace. Not only is Gibraltar a beautiful and hugely business-friendly nation with a fantastic Mediterranean climate and vibrant lifestyle for those who live, work and visit here, but its sports scene – especially football – is at an exciting pivotal point  and the only way is up, driven by the well-managed Gibraltar Football Association (GFA).”

Europa Point FC Manager and ex-Gibraltar National Team Coach Allen Bulla said: “Europa Point FC are so excited to have secured ‘Saka’s signature for our 2019/2020 season.  Saka brings with him a wealth of experience and professionalism to help the team and its young Gibraltan players and his ability to score goals will be a fantastic addition to our already attacking line up.”

Saka, who is on a one year contract with an option to extend and will play his first game with Europa Point FC on 2nd August 2019 against Athletico Marbella said: “It is my dream to reach the highest level of European football  and stand on the Champions League podium as the iconic Champions League music plays. Joining Europa Point FC has given me a final chance to achieve this level in professional football now I’m in my 30s. But I also want my time here to open the door to Europe, including Gibraltar, to the young Japanese footballers and be an example of what can be achieved if you work hard.