Takamasa Abiko landed his dream job, with an annual salary of 120 yen ($1.09), and then made history in the sport he has loved for decades.

Abiko, at the age of 41 years, one months and nine days, became the oldest rookie to play in a J.League match in the team's opening game in March.

“I felt so good,” the forward said about the soccer game. “I felt I had gained back all that I had regretted in life.”

Abiko, who lives in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, signed a contract with the Yokohama Sports & Culture Club (Y.S.C.C.) of the J.League’s J3 Division.

He quit his job when he was 39 years old to take one last shot at becoming a professional soccer player.

His first attempt to reach the pro level came when he was a third-year high school student and went to soccer-mad Brazil.

But he failed to make it there and returned to Japan when he was 20 years old.

He had similar disappointments in his tryouts with J.League teams, and ended up making a living as an interpreter and event coordinator.

He also coached the soccer team of a high school correspondence course.

But he consistently felt an itch while walking up and down the sidelines.

“I am teaching students that in baseball, it is more important to step into the batter’s box than to take 10 practice swings. But have I myself stepped into the batter’s box?” he said he thought at the time.

Two years ago, he decided to step up to the plate.

He turned to crowdfunding to cover his training expenses and quit his job, feeling that people might want to cheer him on if they knew he had no money.

Abiko collected 1.21 million yen from 155 people and was signed by Mito Hollyhock in the J2 division of the J.League. His annual pay was 10 yen, and he struggled to keep up in practice.

He then tried out for and made the Y.S.C.C. team. And in the game against Gainare Tottori in March, Abiko was substituted in, breaking the age record set by Zico, who was 40 years, two months and 13 days old when he debuted for the Kashima Antlers in 1993, the year the J.League was founded.

Zico was a superstar for Brazil and also coached Japan’s national team.

Abiko, whose annual salary is about enough to buy a can of coffee, commutes to the practice field by borrowing his father’s minicar.

But he recently received a sponsorship deal worth 2.4 million yen a year and says he can use his life experience to help the team.

“I want to change the team’s atmosphere by sending my cheering voice from the bench even when we are losing.”