SINGAPORE - He was buying bread in his home city of Florianopolis, Brazil when the baker asked Andre Moritz what he was doing outside when his team Avai had just lost a game.
This 2019 incident, coupled with a long career that has taken him to Turkey, England, South Korea, India and Thailand, convinced the Brazilian he needed a break from football.
He did not kick a ball in 2021 but in 2022 signed for Singapore Premier League side Hougang United. The 35-year-old said: "Brazilians are too emotional about football. People in Florianopolis know that I'm a footballer and they blame me when the team don't win, even when I'm not playing!
"This went on for some time and affected me psychologically, so I needed to stop. I knew I was not finished with football yet, and I still love football, so I'm grateful Singapore and Hougang United came into my life."
He did not intend to play football when he came to Singapore with his wife Michelle, who is pursuing a Master's degree here. But after a family discussion, he decided to ask his agent Michael di Stefano to help him look for a club in Singapore.
"My wife and my eight-year-old step-daughter have only seen my medals and photos but never watched me play. They were so encouraging, and I'm still fit, so I wanted to do this for them," Moritz noted.
The attacking midfielder first trained with Tanjong Pagar United in pre-season, but with the Jaguars looking for a defensive import, the Cheetahs swooped in to sign Moritz, who has since recorded four goals and two assists in seven games.
Looking forward to both teams' showdown on Saturday (May 14), he said: "It's just destiny and it wasn't supposed to happen. We have no hard feelings, and I'm thankful for their introduction to Singapore football."
Moritz is hoping his team's results improve from the second round of the SPL, after the Cheetahs, who finished third last season, claimed just eight points from their opening eight matches to languish in sixth.
"We score in every game, but we conceded 22 goals, so we need to defend better as a team and not lose concentration," he said.
Throughout his career, being able to keep his focus has helped him win the 2007 Copa do Brasil with Fluminense and the 2013 English Championship play-off final with Crystal Palace in front of 82,025 fans in Wembley.
Despite playing in front of more modest turn-outs these days, Moritz considers himself blessed, saying: "It's a big difference, of course, but this doesn't mean any less to me. It's a new chapter of my life, everyone at Hougang has been amazing to me.
"I wake up at 5.30am and take the MRT to training every day. I love it, I feel normal and happy again. I can still play for two or three more years, and I will try to help Hougang with my experience."
Balestier v Albirex (May 13, 7.45pm)
An astonishing second-half collapse saw Albirex score five times in 13 minutes to record a 6-0 win over Balestier in March. The Tigers have since done well to record three wins - the same number as the White Swans - in eight games, but will miss the suspended Delwinder Singh in defence.
Lion City Sailors v Geylang (May 14, 5.30pm)
Geylang stunned the Sailors 1-0 in their first match of the season but the result remains the Eagles' only win and the Sailors' sole defeat so far this term. While the Sailors have the deeper squad, Geylang will be the fresher side after going 28 days without a game.