Missing the top 8 for the first time in history, but getting the first point, Maeda Dairiki’s “blank year”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Missing the top 8 for the first time in history, but getting the first point, Maeda Dairiki’s “blank year”.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Dairi Maeda scored the first goal in the 43rd minute of the first half (photo: Kyodo News).

Japan’s national soccer team faced off against Croatia to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time in their history, and with the score still 1-1 going into extra time, the match went to a penalty shootout. The Japanese goalkeeper stopped three penalties, but the first goal scored by Dainichi Maeda in the 43rd minute of the first half gave even the most casual soccer fan a glimpse of what the future might hold.

With the score at 0-0 in the 43rd minute, Maya Yoshida, who had been in the middle of the field for the first half, did his best to get to Maeda’s right foot as he was stretching out to meet Ritsu Doan’s cross ball. The ball swung directly with his left foot into the net with a powerful strike.

I would like to thank all the people who have supported me to get here. First of all, I want to thank everyone. It was a tournament to give back to those who supported me, but I am really disappointed that I could not make it to the next stage. It was the middle of the night in Japan, but I know there were many people cheering me on, so even though I couldn’t show them a winning game, I really want to thank them.

Maeda started three of the four games in the tournament and scored his long-awaited first goal. However, Maeda did more than score a goal; he contributed with his dedicated defensive work, running around in front of the opposing goal to eliminate the paths of the opposing goalkeeper and defenders. The symbolic play was demonstrated in the opening three minutes of the match. Maeda pressured the opposing goalkeeper and cut off Ribakovic’s pass, which was converted into a goal kick for the opponents. The ball was turned into a goal kick by the opponent, but it put them under mental pressure and set the stage for Maeda’s first goal after about 40 minutes.

Maeda began to attract attention during the Tokyo Olympics held last summer. At a press conference held a few days after his selection for the national team, Maeda said, “I was a bad player when I was in my first year of high school.

I had a bad experience in my first year of high school, and I didn’t play soccer for a whole year in my second year of high school, and there were so many things that I thought about quitting the sport.

Maeda, who hails from Osaka, Japan, entered Yamanashi Gakuin High School in 2013 after watching the team win its first national high school championship in January 2010 when he was a sixth grader at elementary school. His speed in attack was remarkable, and he was a standout player from the time he was a freshman, but he was also capricious when it came to defense.

In the winter of his first year of high school, Maeda was expelled from the soccer team for one year from February of his first year of high school for violating the rules of the club. He moved out of the dormitory where he had been living and rented a room in Kofu City, living with his parents while attending school. Kazuaki Yoshinaga, then manager of the high school’s soccer team (now manager of Albirex Niigata Niigata Singapore), told FRIDAY Digital, “Taking up soccer was not a good idea for them.

I think it is the hardest thing for them to take up soccer. But I wanted them to realize that they cannot do anything alone. I wanted them to realize that they are able to do what they do because they have the support of many people, including fellow club members, students, parents, school teachers, and others. I didn’t set any deadlines, and I didn’t call on Maeda at all, but asked him through his homeroom teacher how he was doing.

Maeda was not allowed to enter the practice field, so he would start running at around 6:00 in the morning and kick a ball in the park. His homeroom teacher also told him that he began cleaning the classroom by himself.

He had been wearing his current close-cropped hair since high school, but once he even let it grow long during that period. I think he wanted me to talk to him,” said Yoshinaga.

Kazuaki Yoshinaga, coach at Yamanashi Gakuin High School, was one of the “many people who supported me.” After turning pro, we met again after a long time and took a picture (courtesy of Mr. Kazuaki Yoshinaga).

Even so, coach Yoshinaga did not call on him, but six months after he began to show signs of remorse in his attitude, he joined a team of professionals through a friend of coach Yoshinaga’s. He was still not back in the high school soccer team, but he was still a member of the team. However, he still could not return to his high school soccer team, and at the 2014 Winter High School Championship, which Maeda participated in from the end of his second year of high school, he joined the general student body and cheered them on from the stands.

After the high school championship was over and a year had passed since his expulsion, a meeting was held within the club to discuss the matter. Maeda returned to the soccer team in February, with the support of his fellow club members, and a change in his playing style could be seen. Mr. Yoshinaga continues.

I think he wanted to catch up because he had not played for a year, but I could see from his play that he really wanted to play for the team. Not only in attack, but also in defense, I saw him helping the team, covering for his teammates, and playing in a wide range of areas.

As with any player, you can give 100% when you go forward, but it is not easy to come back at 100% when you are defending. But, after all, thanks to that year, Onsen’s speed is now the same when he goes forward and when he goes backward.”

After a one-year break from club activities, Maeda was the top scorer in the Kanto Prince League, a league of top high schools and youth teams in the J-League, and received an offer from Matsumoto, then a J2 club. Maeda took it upon himself to make the step up to where he is today, and that led to his goal on this day. Nevertheless, Maeda’s mentor, Yoshinaga, had this to say.

I think it was a failure in terms of managing a club with a large number of members. The best thing to do is to avoid creating such a vacuum for the players, including Maeda, and I still regret that I could not prevent it from happening. On the other hand, Onen did not let it end as just a failure and changed his mind. I think it’s great that he became a professional, but I myself was saved by the fact that he showed me that this kind of thing can happen.
I have been a leader for a long time, and even though we want to change people, it is not easy to change them. What we can do is give them a chance to change, a chance. He took that opportunity and turned it into a chance. He embodied the message that people can change, and that is a big lesson for me.

After the Croatia match, Maeda repeatedly used the words “thank you” and “repay the favor,” and he continued to demonstrate this through his play in the tournament. Maeda was blessed with Yoshinaga and the people around him, and was able to turn the gap in his life into a period of recharging and self-reflection. Even if he stumbles, he can crawl back up and play on the world’s most prestigious stage with just one feeling. …… Maeda’s goal was more than just a point in the sense that it showed the possibility of that.

Maeda always put pressure on the opposing goalkeeper and played the role of preventing the path of the pass (Photo: JMPA)

Photo Gallery3 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles