Deportivo Toluca has been blessed over the years with having many special and influential players but few have stayed as long at Toluca or been deeply written into the club’s history and occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of the supporters. Antonio Naelson Matias or Sinha as he is more commonly known as is one such player.
Sinha was born in 1976 in Brazil and in the town of Itaja which is located in the northwest of the state called Rio Grande de Norte. His career as a midfielder started there and in the state’s main team which is known as America FC. He played there between 1985 and 1993 before being sold to Saltillo Soccer football club where he made 35 appearances and scored 1 goal.
Scouts from Mexican football team Monterrey had been watching for a period of time and despite not being very tall at 5 ft 5 inches he was very mobile, had a good shot on him, offered a safe link between defence and attack and was excellent at spreading the ball in a variety of situations. A good playmaker. So in 1998 Sinha signed for Monterrey where he would only spend one season in which he would play 17 games and score only 1 goal.
Goalscoring aside Deportivo Toluca saw something and signed him up quickly in 1999. It is at Toluca where Sinha wrote himself into the clubs history books. But it is also important to note that besides being a great ambassador for the club on the pitch he was also a great ambassador off the pitch. A good role model for younger players and younger fans.
Sinha spent 15 years at Toluca which is special as in today’s game such loyalty is almost impossible to find. He played a total of 514 games and scored 61 goals which is a good return for a playmaker. During his time there he was part of a golden era of success at Deportivo Toluca and was fortunate to play alongside another Toluca legend in Jose Cardozo and be managed by the Mexcian footballing legend that is Enrique Meza.
At Toluca he won the league title in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008 and in 2010. 2010 was extra special as it marked the 10th league championship for Deportivo Toluca, just one behind Club America and Chivas Guadalajara and cementing even further their standing as one of Mexican football´s big three clubs. He also won the Mexican Supercup in 2006 and in 2003 he won both the CONCACAF Champions Cup and again the Mexican Supercup.
Individually his influence was noticed and rightfully rewarded. Sinha in 2010 was voted both the best attacking midfielder in the league and the player of the tournament. At the age of 34 he was still producing the goods in what was for both him and Deportivo Toluca quite a special year.
Internationally Sinha after having spent several years in Mexico became a citizen and thus was able to represent the Mexcian national team. Since 2004 he played a total of 59 games for El Tri and scored 6 goals. In 2005 during the FIFA Confederations Cup in Japan Sinha scored a goal against Japan which till this day has been voted the best ever goal scored in the tournament.
Whatever your national or club loyalties there is no denying what a special player Sinha was. Managers and players alike have no bad word to say about him and it would be s shame if he was lost from the game altogether.
Andries is a 37 year old Dutchman and has been living in Mexico for the last 6 years with his fiancee. Previously he spent most of his life living, travelling and working all over the world in a variety of countries including Vietnam, Australia and South Africa. He has been writing for Golazo Mexicano, Total Dutch Football and Soccerlens since July 2014. You can follow Andries on Twitter @oosters76