The Path to the Strongest Generation: Part 2] Makoto Hasebe and Keisuke Honda Paved the Way for “Transferring Abroad Even if Not a Mainstay of the Japanese National Team | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Path to the Strongest Generation: Part 2] Makoto Hasebe and Keisuke Honda Paved the Way for “Transferring Abroad Even if Not a Mainstay of the Japanese National Team

Thinking about the overseas transfers of Japanese players (2)

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Keisuke Honda making his presence felt at VVV Venlo (Netherlands)

Following on from the previous article, “The Genius Shinji Ono’s Failure to Make the Step Abroad,” we look back at the challenges faced by the men who paved the way for Japanese players to move overseas.

In the late 2000s, when the golden generation, led by Shinji Ono (44, Sapporo), paved the way for Japanese players to move overseas, a different transfer route began to emerge. The catalyst for change came in January 2008, when Makoto Hasebe (39, Frankfurt) and Keisuke Honda (37) took up the challenge of playing in Europe.

Hasebe went from Urawa Reds to Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga, and Honda went from Nagoya Grampus to VVV Venlo in the Netherlands, but neither was a major player in the national team at the time.

Hasebe won his first cap for Japan against the United States in San Francisco in February 2006 during the Zico Japan era, but he was rarely called up to the national team during the Osim Japan era, when he took over. Honda was also called up to the team during the Osim Japan era, but did not play. His first cap came against Bahrain (Saitama) in June 2008, after Takeshi Okada (67) took over as coach for the second time.

In other words, they broke through the preconceived notion that “players who have made their mark in the national team are the ones who go overseas.

Hasebe established himself as a driving force behind the German Bundesliga championship in his second season. He went on to play for Nuremberg and Frankfurt, where he is still active at the age of 40. It is a well-known fact that he has become an exemplary top player, respected by everyone in the German soccer world.

Although relegated to the second division six months after moving to the Netherlands, Honda made a major breakthrough in the 2008-09 season, becoming a driving force behind the club’s return to the first division and winning the Player of the Year (MVP) award as voted by the coaches and captains of each team in the second division. MVP award, voted on by the coaches and captains of the teams in the second division. He was also awarded the MVP award, which was voted by the coaches and captains of the second division teams. In the middle of the following season, in January 2010, he moved to CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League. In January 2010, he moved to CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League, where he participated in the UEFA Champions League (European CL) and scored a direct FK in the second leg of the first round match against Sevilla, helping the team to the top eight. In 2002, he joined AC Milan, where he achieved the feat of wearing the number 10 jersey.

He showed that even if he did not play a central role in the national team, Japanese players have the ability to play at a high level, a fact that had a great impact on him in the following years.

Shinji Kagawa (34, C Osaka), Atsuto Uchida (35, JFA role model coach), and Yuto Nagatomo (37, FC Tokyo) made the move to Europe immediately after Honda’s success in the European CL. Uchida and Nagatomo were already regulars at national side back (SB), but Kagawa was a young 21-year-old from Cerezo Osaka in J2. Although he had represented the national team before, he was not selected for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, so it was surprising that he would get a chance to play for Borussia Dortmund, a prestigious German club.

Yuto Nagatomo, using his excellent physique to run the length and breadth of the left flank.

By this time, European clubs had shifted their targets from the top players of the Japanese national team to young players of the U-20 and U-23 Olympic generations. They would acquire cheap teenage players on loan, and if they were successful, they would buy the rights to them and sell them to other clubs at a high price to make money. If the player is not useful, he can be returned to the J club from which he was rented and there is no risk. The young Kagawa, who had participated in the 2007 U-20 World Cup (Canada) and the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was scoring a lot of goals for J2, was an ideal candidate.

In addition, at the time, Dortmund was in the midst of a restructuring process after starting over from a business collapse in the mid-1900s. They could not pay a hefty transfer fee to acquire a big name. Therefore, they scouted for promising players such as Ilkay Gundogan (33), Robert Lewandowski (35, both Barcelona), Mario Goetze (31, Frankfurt), and others under the age of 23 one after another. The famous coach, Jurgen Klopp (56, now at Liverpool), brought out the best of their potentials and helped them to win the Bundesliga in the ’10-’11 and ’11-’12 seasons. The team won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in the ’10-’11 and ’11-’12 seasons. In the summer of 2012, Kagawa won a place at Manchester United, one of the most prestigious clubs in the English Premier League.

Kagawa is a rare example of a player who started at a mid-table German club, worked his way up with the club, and made it all the way to Man United,” said one of Kagawa’s agents.

This includes Ryo Miyaichi (31, Yokohama), who joined Arsenal shortly before Kagawa and was loaned out to Feyenoord, Bolton, and Wigan, and Shinji Okazaki (37, Sint-Troiden), who joined Leicester in the summer of 2003 and helped them win the Premier League that same season, The number of Japanese attackers playing in the Premier League steadily increased during the decade. This trend can be seen as having led to Takumi Minamino (28, Monaco) joining Liverpool in January 2008 and Kaoru Mitoma (26, Brighton) playing a major role in the team’s success.

On the other hand, the arrival of Maya Yoshida (35, LA Galaxy) from VVV Venlo to Southampton in the summer of ’12 was also a very impactful event.

Yoshida, like Honda, came to Holland with no national team experience, but he spent three and a half years in the Netherlands, during which time he became a regular in the national team. He was selected as an overage player for the London 2012 Olympics and was a driving force in the team’s semifinal run as captain, which helped him make the step up to the premier league.

Attackers like Kagawa, Miyaichi, and Okazaki may be able to make it to the top flight depending on their results, but it is not so easy for a Japanese center back to make it to the top flight and play in the top flight. In Yoshida’s case, his height (189 cm), feeding ability, and English communication skills honed in Holland have become major weapons, but the position requires close communication, so the hurdle for Japanese CBs to move overseas is high.

Maya Yoshida has risen to the position of captain of the national team by making the most of his overseas experience.

In the summer of 2009, nine years after Yoshida joined Southampton, Takehiro Tomiyasu (25) went to Arsenal, but his main position is still SB, which shows how difficult it is for Japanese CBs to make it in the Premier League. The value of Japanese defenders has steadily increased as they have made their mark in the Premier League.

As the number of players who can compete in the Premier League increases, other clubs in the five major European leagues will naturally begin to pay attention to Japanese players. In fact, after Kagawa, Takanori Sakai (32, Kobe), Hirotsugu Kiyotake (34, Osaka), Hiroki Sakai (33, Urawa), Takashi Usami (31, G Osaka), Yuya Osako (33, Kobe), and Genki Haraguchi (32, Stuttgart) have all joined the German team. Kiyotake, who was very successful at Nuremberg and Hannover, won a place at Spanish powerhouse Sevilla in the summer of 2004.

In Belgium, goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (40) made the leap from small club Lierse to powerhouse Stendal Liege two years later, and Kensuke Nagai (34, Nagoya) and Yuji Ono (30, Tosu) joined the club in rapid succession. Although many of them failed to succeed, Kawashima has undeniably elevated the status of Japanese goalkeepers.

Kawashima then had a free period before moving on to Dundee United of the Scottish Premier League, Metz of the French Ligue 1, and Strasbourg, where he spent more than a decade of his career. Although he is unattached this season, the hurdle for a Japanese defender to be sought by European clubs as an assistant is quite high. This can be seen in the case of Schmidt Daniel (31, Sint-Troiden), whose move to Messe was off the table at the last minute this summer.

The 2010s saw the acceleration of the era of mass transfers of Japanese players. Starting with Hasebe and Honda, many top players went out and made their mark, making it possible for anyone to aim overseas. It is fair to say that the current young generation has benefited greatly from this.

Continue to the sequel article , “Overseas Players Make up the Majority of the National Team… The Future of the Japanese National Team Supported by Players Who “Transferred Overseas without Going through the J-League””.

  • Interview and text by Etsuko Motokawa Etsuko Motokawa PHOTO AFLO

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