Three goals in three matches for the national team! Japan’s Keito Nakamura says, “I feel like I’m riding a wave right now. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Three goals in three matches for the national team! Japan’s Keito Nakamura says, “I feel like I’m riding a wave right now.

A direct interview with the "new generation attacker" of the second Moriyasu Japan team!

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The city of Reims is beautiful and comfortable. I am now with a good team. In front of Notre Dame Cathedral, a World Heritage site

When you play for the Japanese national team, the response is incredible,” he said. I received many congratulatory messages from friends and acquaintances, as well as many messages on SNS. I scored three goals in three matches for the national team. In my debut game against Uruguay in March, I played less than five minutes, starting with one minute remaining, in the second half against El Salvador in June I played only 45 minutes, and in the first half against Turkey in September I played only 45 minutes, so that’s three goals in almost 90 minutes (laughs). (Laughs.) It gives me confidence, but the current national team is full of high-level players, and I am still one of the losers. I just have to do my best to make it in the national team.

The rising star, who scored 17 goals for LASK Linz of Austria’s first division last season and earned a transfer to Stade Reims of France’s first division this summer, rose to prominence in the Moriyasu Japan squad after the World Cup in Qatar and quickly lived up to expectations. The most outstanding performance came in an international friendly against Turkey on September 12.

Keito Nakamura (23) started as a left midfielder and scored once when he stuffed the ball past Kubo Takefusa (22) and again when he met Seiya Maikuma (25)’s right cross and slotted the ball past a defender for the second goal. Both goals were “right on target,” Nakamura recalls.

For the first goal, I saw the trajectory of Take’s (Kubo) shot, and I knew it was going to spill over, and for the second goal – aiming for the groin of the defender is one of my specialties.

Nakamura says that he became fascinated with the Japan national team after watching the World Cup in Germany in 2006, when he was in kindergarten. When he actually joined the team, he says with a laugh, “I am only looking forward to it.

I’ll be playing against Liverpool’s Wataru Endo (30), Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu (24), and Borussia MG’s Koh Itakura (26),” he says. Moreover, Kaoru Mitoma (26) is in the same position as me. Some people say they feel sorry for me because I play the same position as him (left midfielder), but I feel nothing but honored. Because I get to see Mr. Mitsuzumi, who is one of the top five left midfielders in the world at that position, play right in front of me, train with him, and even get advice from him. There is no better environment than that!

When asked if there were any players in the national team that he was close to, goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura (28) was the first name that came up. Although they share the same surname, the combination of the attacker, who has been talked about immediately after joining the national team for his sweet looks, and the wild guardian god with a shaved head and beard seems a little surprising.

Kosuke is a good friend of mine,” said Kosuke, “like Kyogo Furuhashi (28), Take and Yukinari Sugawara (23), who are from the same generation. But with Kosuke, since we were together for the national team in June, we have a good rapport. When you talk to someone, you feel like you have a good feeling for them, don’t you? (laughs).

He has made five appearances since the start of the season at his new club, Stade Reims, including his first assist with a header against Brest on September 17.

He has been with Sint-Troiden (Belgium), Juniors (Austria), and LASK (Austria), but playing in the French First Division, one of the top five leagues in Europe, will be a new challenge for him. But playing in the French First Division, one of the five major leagues in Europe, will be a new challenge for him.

I feel that the overall level of speed and technique is one step higher than in the Austrian First Division, where I played until last season. However, once you actually get on the pitch, it’s the same soccer game, and I don’t feel there is that big of a difference. When you have just moved to a new club, there is a lot of stress and pressure, not just this time. You have to build a relationship from scratch with a new coach and new friends in a new environment. Now, about a month has passed since I came to Reims, and I am finally getting used to it. After scoring two goals against Turkey, I feel that I have gained the recognition of my teammates in Reims. My feeling is good, and I feel like I am riding the wave myself, so I hope to contribute to the team from now on.

At Stade Lance, he says that being teammates with Junya Ito (30), a senior member of the national team, has made it easy for him to fit in.

I had only met him once or twice on the national team, so I was nervous at first (laughs). (Laughs) I was nervous at first because I had only met him once or twice on the national team, and Junya is the ace of the team, even though I am new to the team. Junya is usually cool and cool, but he is also very kind and invites me out for dinner. I think it is really a great environment to have a good role model like Junya on the team.

Although he is only 23 years old, he has already been living abroad for five years. She has no worries about life in France. However, he laughs, “I’m not good at moving,” which is a common problem for overseas teams.

I’m not very good at moving,” he says with a laugh, “because the move can be sudden. Even here in Reims, I haven’t moved into a house yet, so I’m still living in a hotel. There are many furnished apartments in Europe, but I’d like to furnish it myself if possible. I’m a germaphobe in a weird way, and I can’t sleep well on a bed that I don’t know how it was used by someone else. When I was in Sint-Troiden, I got my furniture from IKEA and assembled the bed myself. I was transferred after six months (laughs).

At first glance, Nakamura’s career appears to be going well as he continues to accumulate international experience from the under-19 level and steadily works toward becoming an established member of the national team.

However, during his second year overseas in Sint-Troiden, he was unable to get on the bench, and a series of injuries prevented him from even practicing. At the time, he was on a temporary transfer from G Osaka, and he was asked to return to the team.

However, Nakamura insisted on competing in Europe, and in February 2009 he transferred to Juniors, LASK’s second team. As it turned out, this decision paid off. In the summer of the same year, he won a full transfer to LASK, which led to a good performance last season.

To be honest, last year was the first time I got the feeling that I could make it as a professional,” he said. There was nothing left for me to do, and I really needed results.

In November, the qualifying rounds for the 2014 World Cup in North and Central America will begin. When asked about his future goals, Nakamura immediately replied, “To be a member of the national team.

I want to keep my feet on the ground first, because things don’t always go the way I want them to.

His mask is sweet, but his attitude toward soccer is solid. He is firmly grounded. A reliable attacker has joined the national team in its quest to reach the last eight of the World Cup, a long-cherished goal.

During the European tour in September against Turkey, he made a strong appeal with two goals in the first half alone. He now has three goals in three games for the national team.
At Stade Lance, he and Junya Ito (right) are a beautiful duo. With an assist from a senior member of the national team, they blended in well with the team.
At his favorite cafe. Before games, he always listens to EXILE’s ballad “Yell” to quietly inspire his mind.

From the October 13-20, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • Interview and text Masao Kurihara PHOTO Watanabe Koji

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