The long sayonara
He was once the world's most expensive signing, has dazzled football fans in Brazil, Italy and Germany and has even teamed up with Kazu Miura at Verdy Kawasaki (today called Tokyo Verdy 1969). Now 31, Marcio Amoroso is ready to spearhead Sao Paulo's challenge for the club world crown.
"I'm really happy to be back where I began my career," said the striker who, as a teenager, was part of the Tokyo side that won championships in 1992 and 1993. "I hope to lend the experience I've gained abroad to my team-mates."
Like many Brazilian footballers, Amoroso's career has taken him far from home. Few, though, have achieved as much as the boy from Brasilia. When he was transferred from Udinese to Parma for 33.1 million dollars in 1999, Amoroso was at the peak of his powers. Devastating speed, wonderful technique and matchwinning goals, he had it all. For a time, Ronaldo was second in the pecking order in Brazil's forward line.
However a serious injury kept Amoroso out of the game and he could never quite rediscover the same magic in Italy. He did get back to winning ways though in Germany where his sheer class contributed to Borussia Dortmund's 2002 title success.
Success back home
A move back to Brazil was always on the cards and when Sao Paulo's star striker Grafite needed knee surgery, Amoroso stepped in and grabbed his chance with both hands. He debuted in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final against River Plate and immediately made his mark, scoring once in his side's 3-2 victory in Buenos Aires.
Amoroso had lived up to his billing as the man who would deliver the goals. He was again on target in the second leg of the final against Atlético Paranaense, scoring his side's opening goal in an emphatic 4-0 home victory after the first leg had ended 1-1. In doing so, he made a key contribution to Sao Paulo becoming the first Brazilian club to lift the Copa Libertadores, South America's premier club competition, on three occasions. The striker was voted man-of-the-match, becoming only the second Brazilian player, after Palmeiras' Marcos in 1999, to do so.
"We have to focus on working hard and getting our tactics right," said the experienced campaigner. "The new format of six teams means this a different competition. Regardless of how many games we have to play, our aim is to bring the trophy home - and I have the feeling that it will be coming back to Brazil."
Like his colleagues, Amoroso is loath to talk about a possible final against UEFA champions Liverpool. "It would be a tight match," he said, "but we have to get past Ittihad first. We have to create spaces for the midfielders to come through."
The fields of Japan beckon again for a player whose skills have graced many stadiums around the world. There is still plenty left in Amoroso's tank and watching his former striker partner, Japan legend Kazu Miura, performing well in the competition for Sydney FC at 38, will convince him of that.
And as the good memories of those heady days flood back, Amoroso is hoping that Japan will prove to be a happy hunting ground in the coming week.