Lunch with... Diego Gama
Cheese prata and murtabak are Diego Gama's favorite local delicacies, but that is not on the menu for the Brazilian striker today. Instead, we proceed to the food court on the top level of Hougang Mall where the Cheetahs hitman orders a steak with fries because he has to have protein before training later in the day. He complements his lunch with a packet of salad from Pastamania and a bottle of Minute Maid Orange Juice.
Name: Diego Gama de Oliveira
Place of Birth: Santos, Sao Paulo
Club: Hougang United
Diego Gama solemnly tells FFT that it is extremely important that he watches his diet, because it plays a big part in determining how well he plays. As such, he only indulges in cheese prata and murtabak once a month with his Hougang team-mates.
He recalls the first time he tasted cheese prata, during his first stint in the S-league, also with Hougang in 2011. "It was heaven!" He was introduced to it by his countryman Vitor Borges who turned out for Balestier Khalsa.
The Sao Paulo-born forward is also a big fan of Pastamania; he has a Pastamania card which entitles him to 15% off his bill. He often visits his local outlet after games for pasta and salads.
To top it all of, Diego Gama is also an aspiring chef. He cooks a meal of rice, with beef and black beans every Friday for his housemates, Igor Cerina and Geison Moura, and his beef stroganoff, he assures us is "absolute class."
Who's your best friend in the Hougang dressing room?
Of the local players, I'd have to say Faizal Amir and Fadhil Salim. I have become very close to Faizal this year and Fadhil was there for me when I was injured in 2011. He helped me a lot; bought food for me and even cooked for me. Fadhil's a really great guy.
Out of the foreigners, I am on great terms with Geison Moura and Igor Cerina. We live together and get along really well. (They live in a 4 room HDB apartment unit 5 minutes walk away from Hougang Mall)
Who's the toughest defender you have played against in the S-league?
I'd have to say Daniel Bennett from Warriors FC. He's very strong and very intelligent. He's very hard to beat.
Who do you think will win the S-league this year?
If not Hougang (laughs), I would say Brunei or Tampines. Brunei have got a strong team this year with very good players like Rodrigo Tosi. He (Tosi) has very good technique. Tampines, because they have strength in depth.
You have four goals so far this season. How many goals do think you will end up scoring?
I hope I can get at least 10 goals this year. Hougang has a stronger team this year than when I last played for them in 2011 and we have great team spirit so I hope to get at least 10 goals this year.
Which is your least favorite stadium to play at?
Jalan Besar. It's a really nice stadium but the pitch is not too good. It's too hard. My back hurts every time I play there. When it rains, the ball moves too fast. It's not just me, many other players don't like the Jalan Besar pitch too.
Hougang has extremely supportive fans. Do you have anything to say to them?
The Hougang fans are really spectacular! They sing "Hougang Hougang" non-stop every game and it really gives me a big lift. You know, after 70 minutes, players really start to tire but the presence of the fans and their songs really gives us the energy to keep going. I would like to thank them for coming down and being there all season. I hope to score more goals to repay their loyalty.
What's the best movie you have seen this year?
Robocop was a movie I enjoyed a lot, but Rio 2 was good too. My daughter in Brazil loves it and I watched it so I can have something to talk to her about.
What music do you listen to?
Before a match, I listen to a mix of Samba and Gospel music. It relaxes me and helps me focus for the match.
What do you like most about Singapore?
I appreciate that in Singapore, you can walk around at night. 10pm, midnight, even at 2am and there is no problem, it's very safe. In Brazil, you can't do that, you would be robbed!
The weather can be too hot at times, but I prefer hot to cold. When I was playing in Portugal, I found the winter time very very tough. So I definitely prefer the Singapore weather to Portugal.
Do you watch football on the telly? Which league do you follow?
I follow the Barclays Premier League and I support Chelsea because of the many Brazilians playing for them but this season I have enjoyed watching Liverpool. They really play 'together' and remind me of my own team Hougang.
Who do you think will win this year's World Cup?
Brazil of course!