Ex-soccer pro now kicking crime


Former professional soccer player Katsuhiko Sano, whose career with Shizuoka’s Shimizu S-Pulse was ended by an injury, has set off on a new career as a police officer.

“My target is to ensure safety and bring smiles to residents’ faces,” said Sano, 25, whose new home ground is Sakurabashi Police Station in Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, near his former club.

A native of Yaizu in Shizuoka, Sano spent his entire career with Shimizu S-Pulse, which he joined as a promising young player. But he badly injured a ligament in his right knee in a training session only 10 days after joining the club in 2007.

Despite rehabilitation work, the injury caused him to miss major games, and in December 2009 Sano was told he did not figure in the team’s future plans. His life then lost its purpose, he said.

“My dream of becoming a player in Japan’s top professional soccer league was shattered by this one injury,” he said.

He said he would have tried to pursue his dream if he were single, but had chosen to ensure stability for his wife, Eri, and their then-1-year-old son, Takuma. Impressed with an annual prefectural police parade he watched a month after leaving the soccer team, Sano decided to start a new career.

“I felt that (as a police officer) I could use my physical and mental strength gained during my career,” he said. “You need to be aware of your role and fully commit to all tasks you are dealing with.

“I want to improve my skills as a police officer,” said Sano, who passed the entrance exam in the fall of 2010 on his first attempt and now spends his days patrolling the local neighborhood and questioning suspects.

  • EQ

    Good on him for chosing to serve people. I wish he had stayed in Soccer and converted to officiating, though. Soccer needs Referees with playing experience at the top level. He would have probably been very successful. When I stopped playing (I was not a professional player), I became a Referee and my playing experience really helped me a lot. I knew fouls, simulations, etc. Most players I officiated knew I had been “one of them” so they did not really argue my decisions. My Referee mentors were both former professional players. The first one, from Scotland, went on from being a professional player to being an FIFA Referee and he officiated in the World Cup in 1994, The EURO 96 and was the Senior Referee in the J-League in the 1990’s. The second one, a Japanese, was a player at Bellmare then became a Referee and officiated in the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.