Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka has vowed to make his first FIFA World Cup™ an experience he can remember with pride.
"I don't want the World Cup to be like food that I can't remember the taste of," he told the Kyodo news agency. "It would be fantastic if our hard work from the World Cup tastes like strawberries, but there is also a possibility it could taste nasty.
"Even if we get hammered and it is not a nice feeling, I want to feel it completely in my body. I don't want to come back home wondering maybe if I could have given a bit more."
Tulio, who turns 29 on Saturday, and Yuji Nakazawa are likely to form the heart of the Japan defence for their games against Cameroon, the Netherlands and Denmark in Group F. The Brazil-born player has scored seven goals in 37 internationals.
I don't want the World Cup to be like food that I can't remember the taste of. It would be fantastic if our hard work tastes like strawberries.
Despite being crowned the J.League's player of the year in 2006, Tulio was ignored by Japan's then-coach Zico for the squad that made an early exit from Germany 2006, after losing to Australia and Brazil and drawing with Croatia.
"Maybe I won't have another chance to play at the World Cup and I just want my whole body to react when someone mentions the tournament in 70 years time, if I'm still alive then," the Nagoya Grampus centre-back said.
Tulio endorses Okada target
Tulio first came to Japan, his father's homeland, aged 16, to enrol at a high school as an exchange student and football player. He joined Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J.League in 2001.
He moved to Urawa Red Diamonds in 2004, after a year on loan to a second-division side, and helped the country's best-supported team win the AFC Champions League title in 2007. He signed with Nagoya in January.
Tulio, who obtained Japanese nationality in 2003, will become the third Brazil-born player to represent Japan at the FIFA World Cup, following Wagner Lopes in 1998 and Nagoya team-mate Alessandro Santos in 2002 and 2006.
He admitted he was at first sceptical of Japan coach Takeshi Okada's ambitious goal of a semi-final spot in South Africa. "To be honest, I also thought 'what?' at first, but we have played against a number of strong opponents and I see no reason why we can't achieve that," he said.