Once DPMM's hero, now Tosi looking to play villain
Former DPMM favourite set to fire Stags in huge clash in Brunei
It is a place he used to call home, with fans who adored him and close friends whom he shared the field with.
But tonight, when Rodrigo Tosi walks onto the field at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Bandar Seri Begawan, he will try and play the part of villain, as his current side Tampines Rovers face off against former employers Brunei DPMM FC in a tasty title clash.
The Brazilian striker was a cult hero at DPMM, having initially starred for them in the Malaysian Super League a decade ago, before returning for a second successful stint in the past two Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League campaigns.
While both club and player have moved on since then, their paths will cross once again tonight as the Stags look to reduce the nine-point lead DPMM have over them and leave them in a good position for a late title charge.
Tosi still has fond memories of his time in the sultanate, although he acknowledges the nature of professional football means there will be no place for sentiment tonight.
"When you play football, this sometimes happens," he told The New Paper yesterday, with a half-smile, half-grimace on his face.
"I had some really, really good moments in my three years playing there and it's kind of difficult because it was my home for a really long time, with people I will always regard as my friends and fans.
"I am a Tampines player now, so I'll just have to leave the memories behind when it's time to walk onto the pitch… We're going there to win and that's what I've put my mind to do."
The 32-year-old was a belated arrival at Tampines this season, having signed for the club only at the end of March after they had parted ways with Haitian flop Fabrice Noel.
Although the Stags struggled for consistency earlier in the year, they are starting to fire on all cylinders, with Tosi finding his groove and developing a deadly partnership with Croatian strike partner Mateo Roskam.
Both of them have scored 10 league goals each and the Curitiba native expressed delight with how his side are finding form when it is really beginning to matter.
With a laugh and then a sigh of relief, he added: "All I can say is… we're back now!
"When I first arrived, there were a lot of changes and we needed some time to settle.
"Now, we're really looking like a team and everyone is playing for each other… That's what has really changed things around.
"Now we have to focus on this most important match, because a victory will mean we're really alive in the title race and it'll start to play on their (DPMM's) minds."
Tosi was part of the DPMM side that were cruising to the title in 2014, before a late collapse saw them relinquish the championship to Warriors FC on the final day of the campaign.
When asked which team he would prefer to experience a similar heartbreak again this year, the powerful striker was unequivocal in his response.
"Like I said, I may have good friends there but I have to leave the memories behind," Tosi said.
"Now, I want Tampines to be champions so that's that… There's nothing more to think about."
It’s no secret Tosi has been playing well lately. I believe he will score against DPMM and fire us to victory.
— Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy, on his ace scorer
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