Max Sakae Ogawa

Super start to the season being introduced as Oliver Atom

Super start to the season being introduced as Oliver Atom

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What a super start to the 2022/23 season has a super start with the presentation of players in a dramatic and memorable ceremony. Surprisingly, when I come out of the tunnel I am announced as the next “Oliver Atom”. It didn’t make sense at first until later they explained that Oliver Atom is a once-beloved Japanese anime character. Also known as Captain Tsubasa, this is a character who inspired many footballers across Latin America and Europe.

But what do I have in common with Oliver Atom apart from our obvious good looks 😜

How closely do I resemble a manga character?

Tick. Well, as far as I am concerned that would be half Japanese and born in Sydney. Still, those Japanese origins cannot be denied.



Captain Tsubasa had a super start to soccer when he went to Sao Paulo

Just like Captain Tsubasa, my first international game was also in Sao Paulo. Although I was only 12 years old at the time.

Then on to Barcelona, where Oliver Atom really takes off

So far so good, and now this is a case of life imitating art. I was invited to train with a youth team in Barcelona. My life really is running in parallel with a fictional anime character that I’d never heard about. Who knew?

What’s in a name? Big Sky, little river

Captain Tsubasa Oozora (大空) or “Big Sky” in English. Ogawa (小川) or “Small River”. Ogawa is the 30th most common name in Japan. The creator of the series could choose any name he wanted. And “Big Sky” matches so nicely with Tsubasa (wings). But we seem to have the world of nature theme in common.

Being a Midfielder and especially #10

I see you Captain Tsubasa. My preferred playing position is Center Attacking Mid (or CAM for short). I also dreamt of wearing the #10. For you it was Maradona who inspired you for me it was Messi. Right now I’m #21 – the same number David Silva wore when he was at Man City. It’s the size of the dream that matters and the #10 jersey would be a lot of pressure!

Oliver Atom never lost a match (ok he did, but just one)

Every match I’m on the field, I’m “winning” regardless of the final score. I guess it’s a matter of perspective but I think this too, we have in common. Although only in an anime would a player never lose a match.

Personality, playing talent, inspirational dreams

Time will tell Captain Tsubasa. But like you, I practice and dream. Practice and dream. Perfect my practice. And dream.

There’s also that traffic accident and being saved by the ball

So this is spooky. Captain Tsubasa turned to football after being ‘saved by the ball’ in a traffic accident. I too had a major car accident when I was 4 years old. I wasn’t saved by the ball but it might be a reason I chose football over rugby!

So how much am I like Oliver Atom?

I think Oliver Atom embodies all that a young footballer sets out to do…to play for their national team, play for La Liga, play football for a living. To think, all over the world right now, there are so many “Oliver Atoms” practicing their skills and dreaming big.

This is why football is so popular and captures the imagination. And why we should diligently practice our skills without losing sight of the “Big Sky”.

In the meantime, I am happy to carry the spirit of the tenacious (but fictional) Captain Tusbasa, “Oliver Atom” IRL back out onto the field.


Oliver Atom is really a thing still

The popularity of Oliver Atom never really died down. Fans can still buy:

Plenty there for my friends to think about for my birthday this year since I’m joining the club.

This post has been all about Oliver Atom and being introduced as the new Oliver Atom by my new club at the start of the season.


Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My Japanese grandma always called me Sakae.

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