An Unusual Step Up in Your 30s! Liverpool’s Wataru Endo: The “Human Power” and “Presence of Children” Behind His Great Leap Forward | FRIDAY DIGITAL

An Unusual Step Up in Your 30s! Liverpool’s Wataru Endo: The “Human Power” and “Presence of Children” Behind His Great Leap Forward

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE

The 23-24 season of major European leagues started in mid-August. The English Premier League is probably the most popular.

Kaoru Mitoma (26, Brighton), who made a strong impact last season, and Takehiro Tomiyasu (24, Arsenal), who has returned from a long-term injury layoff, have joined Liverpool this season, as has Japan captain Wataru Endo (30).

Wataru Endo made his first appearance since joining the club on August 19 against Bournemouth.

The 30-year-old’s step up in the world of soccer surprised soccer fans all over the world when he made his first full appearance for Stuttgart in the first round of the DFB Pokal (German Cup) against TSG Bahlingen on August 12, wearing the captain’s jersey. With the Bundesliga opener against Bochum a week later on August 19, he must have been preparing as usual.

However, the situation changed at the beginning of the week. The news of Endo’s transfer to Liverpool came on the morning of August 17 (Japan time). In Europe, where the “mandatory retirement age of 30,” which lowers the market value of older players, is widely accepted, a 30-year-old Japanese player stepping up to Liverpool from Stuttgart, a regular contender to remain in the Bundesliga, is nothing short of a surprise. Endo himself could not hide his surprise.

Manager [Jurgen] Klopp loves a player like Wataru who can win the ball,” said Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.

The famous coach was very fond of Endo, who was the dueling champion in Germany in both the 20-21 and 22-22 seasons. It is probably true. Of course, he must have also witnessed Endo’s performance in Japan’s historic defeat of Germany at the 2010 World Cup in Qatar.

Liverpool had lost Henderson (33/Al-Ittefaq) and Fabinho (29/Al-Ittehad), who had been playing in the defensive midfield until last season, and had tried to reinforce with Caicedo (21/Chelsea) and others, but failed. Therefore, Endo was given the chance to join the team. Although it was a “throw-in personnel move,” it is not every day that a Japanese volante goes to the most prestigious club in the world.

As Endo himself said, “Whether or not you can go to the Premier League, which is your dream, depends on luck and timing.

The story went smoothly, and Endo got his big chance of a lifetime, making his official announcement on January 18 and his debut against Bournemouth on January 19, quickly rising to the top of the pecking order.

His first performance at his new home was calm and collected. This calmness probably comes from his many years of experience as a captain and from his other face as a father raising four children.

Born in February 1993, Endo was born in Totsuka Ward, Yokohama. He played for his hometown club, the junior high school team, and then the youth team of Shonan Bellmare, making his first-team debut in 2010, when he was 17 years old.

Koji Sorimachi, 59, then manager of Shonan, described him as “a mature player with a strong personality and the ability to think ahead, ” and he showed an appearance that was hard to believe for a high school student.

He also bears the heavy responsibility of captain of the Japanese national team.

In 2012, at the age of 19, he was entrusted with the captain’s mark. The team’s coach at the time, Kije Cho (54, now at Kyoto Sanga), recalls, “Ko missed a penalty kick and we lost the game.

He grew up with the heavy responsibility and heartache of losing a penalty kick and crying when he was sent off. I thought that I could entrust him with the role of leader if he could understand his own position. He was not the type of person who would say, “I can’t do anything unless I see how my seniors look at me.

It is not often that a teenager is appointed captain of a professional team with many older players. He had won the trust of those around him.

After that, he went on to a career in which it is no exaggeration to say that he was “a captain in every environment. Not only at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2004, but also in the absence of Maya Yoshida (35, LA Galaxy) in the first Moriyasu Japan team up to the World Cup in Qatar in 2010, he has been a key figure in the team’s success, as well as in his own team. In particular, his appointment to a major role at Stuttgart, where he moved in the summer of 2007, was very significant.

When I went to Stuttgart in ’19, the first thing I was conscious of was to make sure that my performance would not drop at any time. The first thing I was conscious of when I went to Stuttgart in ’19 was not to let my performance drop at any time, and to show that I always gave 100% from practice. Seeing me like that, the then director Matarazzo told me in front of the whole team, ‘You should learn from Wataru. When I was puzzled by his praise in German, he lightly translated it in English, saying, “I really appreciate the fact that you always give 100% in practice and in games, regardless of the results. That made me happy.

Endo once said, “I officially became captain of the team.

It was shortly after that that he officially became captain. The coaches have changed several times since then, but he has always been a key member of the team.

That said, Endo is not the type of player who willingly takes care of those around him, consults with them, or gets angry with undisciplined players. Instead, he respects them as human beings and sees how they behave before deciding how to respond.

In Stuttgart, there was a young player who was sent from the top team to the second team because he was late or overslept too often. He says that even there, he did not warn him, saying, “You can’t be late,” nor did he ask him why he was doing it.

I wondered, “It’s a tremendous opportunity to get into Stuttgart’s top team as a teenager, so why are you so late ……? I was curious, but I didn’t bother to ask. If I needed something, they would have told me, so I would have dealt with it only at that time. I’m the captain, but I don’t carry that person’s life on my shoulders. It is up to the individual.

Endo values each person’s independence and autonomy, regardless of age or experience. That is Endo’s motto.

Will he be able to demonstrate his dueling prowess in the Premier League?

It is the same at home. Endo, who married at the age of 19 and has four children, is a “big father,” but he does not overwork his children and treats them as human beings. Endo said, “Especially my oldest son, who is in elementary school.

Especially my oldest son, who is in elementary school, it is not good to see him as a child, and his way of thinking is surprisingly solid. I am conscious of treating them as adults, and I think that will naturally be passed on to the younger children. My father was also a man who told me to make my own decisions. As a result, I feel I have inherited his educational policy.

This stance is very European. In Japan, it is common practice for children to sleep in the same bed when they are small, but in Europe, it is common practice for children to sleep in separate rooms from infancy, as they value their time together as a couple. In an environment with values that encourage independence and self-reliance, leaders such as Wataru Endo are highly desirable. Perhaps at Liverpool, he will be able to watch his surroundings carefully and build the best relationships with others while maintaining a moderate sense of distance.

Soccer is a game played by 11 players. If you want to play well on the pitch, you have to build good relationships with everyone. Endo, who is very skilled in this human aspect of the game, has the potential to become a very important member of the team.

Until now, it has been said that it is difficult for a Japanese voluntarist to make it big in Europe, but Endo has the potential to change that. We can only look forward to his rapid progress from here on out.

  • Interview and text by Etsuko Motokawa Etsuko Motokawa Photo Afro

Photo Gallery3 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles