Schmidt Daniel, Japan national team goalkeeper: “What Kawashima-san doesn’t have, I have
Special Interview Japan National Soccer Team Goalkeeper Feeding Japan's offense and defense with his 197 cm height and former volleyball skills
The opening of the World Cup in Qatar is just around the corner. The goalkeeper Schmidt Daniel (30) has made his presence felt in the most recent training matches. He also stopped a penalty kick in the 35th minute of the second half. He also saved a header in the 40th minute.
Shuichi Gonda (33) was the regular goalkeeper in the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup, but Schmidt’s performance in this match was uncanny.
The ball came within my reach. I think it was my feeling that drew it to me. I was focused throughout the game, trying to stay in the game.
He also said that he “set himself up for the penalty kick and drew the ball to him.
Before the kick was taken, I moved left and right on the goal line to sway the opponent’s mind and disturb his concentration. Then I stared at the kicker’s face and put pressure on him.”
With 11 caps for the national team, Schmidt feels that he “gave his best performance. The international media praised his defensive range, but Schmidt remains calm about the challenges he faces.
There were times when I struggled with corner kicks,” he said. There were times when I made contact with an opponent and failed to catch the ball, or when I couldn’t punch the ball far enough. However, I wanted to instill in my opponents the image that I would play every ball that was raised inside the goal area, so I was happy that they thought I had a good defensive range.
Schmidt, born in 1992, first saw the World Cup at the 2002 Japan-Korea tournament. He was a field player when he first started playing soccer and became a goalkeeper in high school. His size (197 cm) and potential were quickly noticed, and he entered Chuo University, but it was not until his senior year that he became a regular player. It was around this time that the author became acquainted with Schmidt. At Plaza East, a facility in Saitama City, a meeting was held where five players, including Schmidt, who was about to graduate from Chuo University, interacted with children with disabilities.
Schmidt brought smiles to the children’s faces as he took shots with a soft rubber ball and scored goals. He encouraged children in wheelchairs by approaching them and letting them touch the ball, and he repeatedly high-fived them. In just a few minutes, the children, their parents, and the staff at the nursing home were all connected. Some of them had bright red eyes. When I asked Schmidt what his future goal was, he replied, “To play in the World Cup.
He is in his fourth season with Vegalta Sendai, having spent three years on loan to J2 teams. He has a habit of saying, “I am a weed.
As we all know, Schmidt has been competing with Shuichi Gonda and Eiji Kawashima (39) for a place in the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar.
Kawashima is someone who has done what all Japanese goalkeepers should respect: He has played in three World Cups and continues to play for various teams overseas. I also moved to Sint-Troiden VV to step up, but it is very difficult to get offers within Europe. Kawashima-san has been doing that for a long time. Even in the national team, when things get a little slack, he tightens things up. Even in shooting practice, he makes many saves by putting his body on the line. I am always learning from his attitude. Every time I see him, I think, ‘This guy is amazing. He is my rival, but I admire him. I can’t beat Gonda, who has been carrying the flag of Japan since he was a youth player, in terms of experience. He has a great ability to stop shots, and his kicks are accurate and on target. I feel that he is a goalkeeper of a high overall level. His best weapon is that he has a solid way of constructing his game, saying, “In order to play XX, I have to prepare for XX. I lack that.”
What Schmidt has that his two rivals don’t, he has. What Schmidt has that his two rivals don’t, he has “room to grow.
He can also kick the ball long and short at will, which is a big weapon for Schmidt, who was a volante until high school. He has earned the trust of the national team as a “guardian god who can hold the ball” who can participate in attacks such as counters with the goalkeeper as a starting point.
You’re only as good as your 30 years.
As Takeru Sato, 63, team director at Chuo University, who scouted Schmidt after spotting his talent, has said, at age 30 he is finally beginning to blossom.
He said, “I need to be able to react faster and stop more shots. If I can’t do that, I won’t be able to compete at the top of the world.
Despite his modesty, Schmidt sees Germany, Costa Rica, Spain, and other strong nations he will face in the World Cup group leagues as “not unwinnable opponents.
We want to get at least one point against Germany. I think Germany will be dominant on the ball. The other day (September 24), Germany lost to Hungary 0-1 in a training match. I feel that there will be many scenes where they will be pushed into their own territory and create decisive chances on the counter. Costa Rica in the second game will also be strong, but if we don’t win here, we won’t make it to the last eight. I would like to make a decision before the game against Spain. Spain is expected to have the ball in their hands more than Germany, but I think every game will be a victory by persistence and perseverance.
He is also looking forward to the matchup with German goalkeeper Marc-Andre Thea Stegen (30), who has long been a role model for him.
It would give me immense confidence if I could beat them with a good performance, and I have to do that. If I win, you won’t be watching his videos anymore (laughs). If I win, they will stop watching his videos (laughs), because they will see even higher.”
Schmidt’s awakening is likely to bring Nippon’s long-cherished goal of a top eight finish closer to reality.
Interview and text by： Soichi Hayashi
Photo： Koji Watanabe