Ayumu Goromaru, who announced last week that he will retire after the upcoming Top League season, said he already had a plan for when he would walk away from the sport when he joined Yamaha Jubilo out of college.

The former Japan national team star fullback said he always planned to retire the year he turned 35.

"I signed a professional contract with a great team like Yamaha Jubilo when I was 22 and at that moment, I made up my mind about this,” Goromaru said at a news conference in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Wednesday. “Ever since that day, I knew this day was coming. So it wasn't the last few months or few years that I came to the decision, I’ve planned this over a much longer period.”

The 34-year-old, whose birthday is March 1, also hinted his desire to compete in the game he has played since he was 3 is not as high as it once was.

Ayumu Goromaru participates in a news conference in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Wednesday. | KYODO
Ayumu Goromaru participates in a news conference in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Wednesday. | KYODO

“If I don’t have my emotions, I can probably play,” Goromaru said. “But an athlete needs spirit, not just physical strength. I feel my spirit has declined and thought it would be best for myself and those who are associated with me to step aside.”

The Fukuoka native will don the light blue Jubilo jersey for the final time during the upcoming Top League campaign, which will kick off Jan. 16. Goromaru said one of the major reasons he announced his retirement before the season and not after it was the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the abrupt cancellation of the previous campaign.

“I know that one should hold a retirement press conference after his season is over,” Goromaru said. “But last year was forced to end after six games and that was a big factor. Another reason was that since the 2015 World Cup, I’ve received so much support from the fans and I thought it was appropriate to send my message of appreciation to them before entering the season, which could be canceled. That’s why I had (Jubilo) allow me to have this press conference.”

Goromaru said his post-playing career is completely “up in the air” and that he would start thinking about it after he hangs up his cleats.

He revealed he was asked if he wanted to extend his career for at least one more year, to coincide with the start of the revamped domestic circuit, which is scheduled to start in January of 2022. Goromaru, however, stuck with his original plan.

“The decision to leave with the Top League suits me better, not changing my plan that I came up with when I was 22,” said Goromaru, who has also had international spells in Australia and France, playing for the Reds and Toulon.

When asked which moments from his career stick out the most, Goromaru says there are many he feels are unforgettable. But, “The Miracle of Brighton,” Japan’s momentous upset of South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England, was among the games he mentioned.