Winning title with Al Jazira is new dream for Bare
In 2001, at the age of 19, Jader Volnei Spindler left his home in southern Brazil with a one-way ticket to Japan to play professional football, a step into the unknown that was equally as bold as it was foolhardy.
"I knew nothing of Japan," said the striker. "Nothing. I have no idea how far is it, how life is there, the culture there. I had no idea from nothing. Also, I don't know who is waiting for me there. I just took this airplane and go, and I say, 'Now everything comes from me. I have the responsibility for everything.' And I go also without money."
He paused and chuckled at the memory. "Just one ticket and one dream in my mind, and with this, that is all I have at this time," he said. "I saw it was an opportunity to make football my life, my financial life, and I did not want to miss this opportunity."
Ten years on, the strapping target man has played and trained in Japan, Denmark, Brazil, Uruguay and the UAE and scored more than 150 goals. He was named in the J-League's Best Eleven in 2007, when he scored 20 league goals for Gamba Osaka. He helped Al Ahli win the 2009 Pro League, and he hopes to do the same as the attacking spearhead at Al Jazira, the league leaders who are at home to Ahli tonight.
Along the way, he reportedly earned Dh22.5 million while playing for Ahli, after the Dubai club paid an estimated 1 billion yen (Dh45m) transfer fee to Gamba. He now is in the first year of a three-year contract with Jazira, having moved on a free transfer.
He began his career by making Dh11,000 per month as an underage foreigner with Omiya Ardija, a club near Tokyo.
But that was more than he could make as a youth player for Gremio back in Brazil.
The chance taken by that 19-year-old Brazilian, known throughout his career by his nickname "Bare" (pronounced bah-ray), when he boarded that plane 10 years ago clearly has brought him dividends. While he is grateful for football's rewards, he does not seem particularly surprised; he knows how hard he worked for them.
"Nothing has come easy in my life, and also in the field," he said.
"I must work hard every day, and I want to show a spirit, a fight for the game, everything from the heart. It is not only on the field that I think like this; in all my life."
He traces his work ethic to his mother, Ilsa, who raised four children alone after Bare's father, Natalicio, died of a pulmonary disease at age 37 when Bare was seven months old. His mother worked long hours at a supermarket in the city of Venancio Aires, and her youngest child joined her when he got a job there when he was 12.
"Everything comes from my mother," he said. "When my father is dead she was with four children. She works so hard; she does everything in the market. We never were hungry, but our life is very difficult. It was hard, but my mother gave us a good education and every day when I talk with her on the telephone, every time I thank her for the life and education she gave us.
"And now my brothers, everyone is fine and has a good education and good jobs. None of us went out into the street."
He pays homage to his upbringing with the tattoos on the inside of his left forearm. In Japanese, they translate, he said, to "Thank you, God, father, mother, life."
He traces his nickname to his youth in Venancio Aires, a city of 65,000 with many ethnically German families, like his, descendants of immigrants from the late 19th century.
"When I go to play football, I do not have the money to buy Coca-Cola," he said. "I like the drink Bare Cola, a very, very cheap brand [of caffeinated drink made with the guarana bean]. My friends see me always with the Bare Cola, and I am called 'Bare Cola' and then 'Bare, Bare, Bare'."
He has brought the same spirit of self-sufficiency he showed in his career to learning two languages. He picked up Japanese during his nearly seven years in Japan, and he has taught himself English in the less than three years he has been in the UAE.
His Brazilian wife, Talita, whom he met while living in Dubai, helps him with some words. Watching English-language television is an aid, as well, and he also leans on a dictionary when he is stumped.
Bare began this season in poor form. He failed to score in his first seven league games, but he netted twice in a President's Cup win over Ras al Khaimah in September, and that gave him confidence league goals would come. "Sometimes one goal can change everything," he said. "It is like a window opening."
He has been on target nine times in his past seven league matches for Jazira, and one of those was a demonstration of the skill and strength he brings to the pitch.
Jazira, unbeaten this season, were a goal down at Al Wahda last week when Bare, who is 6ft 2ins, trapped a pass at his feet with Wahda's formidable Hamdan al Kamali on his back. He pivoted and seemed to effortlessly shrug off al Kamali, who crashed to the turf, and given a glimpse of the goal Bare drove a low shot into it. The game finished 2-2.
Bare enjoys playing for Abel Braga, his Brazilian coach. "For me, he is the best coach in the world. He is very professional, he is very intelligent in preparing the team. And he also has character; his heart is clean. Anybody can talk with him about anything. He tries his best to help you. He's like a father because he protects his players like a father."
Jazira lead the league by seven points with eight matches to play, and on April 11 play Wahda in the President's Cup final. But Bare is taking nothing for granted.
"The cup final will be very difficult because Wahda are a strong side who fight hard. The league, we are going step by step and we have done this since the beginning."
From his seat in the Jazira dugout at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium he nodded to the towering stand across from him. "Just like you cannot reach the top there in one time; you must do it one step at a time."
He said bringing trophies to Jazira is why he joined the Abu Dhabi club. "For Jazira, there is one dream: we win the league. This is for the whole club, for the players and the people working behind us. When I came here I came here to do something.
"I don't care about being top scorer or scoring many goals. I want to score goals that mean something. I want to score important goals. When the team needs me, I will be there. This in my mind; I feel this."