Junya Ito (29)
The “Inazuma of Japan” in the eyes of his seniors.
Position: FW Height: 176 cm, Weight: 66 kg
Affiliation: Stade Reims
He is aloof and has an air of being inaccessible, but when you talk to him, he is very friendly. He is the type of person who shows his back in a nonchalant manner. He is usually not at all strong-minded, but when it comes to soccer, he becomes very particular (laughs).
Hiroki Ohno, who was three grades above Junya Ito (29) in the Kanagawa University soccer team, describes Ito’s personality.
Ito scored a goal in four consecutive games in the Asian final qualifying round for the World Cup, tied for the most in Japan’s history, and was involved in more than half of the total of 12 goals, including two assists and a penalty kick. He was a key player in Japan’s qualification for the World Cup.
He is fast on his feet and is always ready to attack. Since his college days, he was a player who gave you a sense of expectation that when he had the ball, he would do something with it.
However, even for Mr. Ohno, his success up to this point was unexpected.
I hope he does well at the World Cup without getting injured. I want him to do well at the World Cup without getting injured. I want to see how far he can go against the rest of the world.
Ito is also known as “Junya Inazuma” because of his fast feet. I hope that he will make his name known around the world in Qatar.
Takumi Minamino (27)
Why the first car I bought was a used Prius
Position: FW Height: 174 cm, Weight: 68 kg
Affiliation: AS Monaco
Takumi Minamino (27) will carry the number “10” at this year’s World Cup. In the Moriyasu Japan team, he has mainly played in the top half and on the left flank, and has scored many goals as an ace. The coach of the soccer team at Kogoku High School, where Minamino played, Tomoaki Uchino, recalls his time as a student: “I signed a professional contract at the age of 17 and went on to play for the school.
He signed a professional contract at the age of 17 and was a very famous person in the school. But he was polite without being arrogant at all. He was a student who was respected by the teachers. He never missed school more than necessary and never got a red mark, even though he was on many overseas tours.
Mr. Uchino still vividly remembers the words he exchanged with Mr. Minamino before graduation.
When I asked him what kind of car he bought when he got his driver’s license, he said it was a used Prius. When I asked him why, he said, ‘I want to go to the European league as soon as possible, so I will eventually sell it. （I’ll buy (a luxury car) over there. He is a child who never wavers at all in his goals.
True to his word, Minamino moved to Austria at the age of 19, and also transferred to Liverpool, a very famous English football club. We look forward to seeing him surprise the world at his first World Cup.
From the December 2 and 9, 2022 issues of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Koji Watanabe (Ito), Koki Nagahama (Minamino)