Kagawa's Japan team-mates react to transfer: 'It's like something from a comic book'
Manchester United's latest star was reluctant to comment on the announcement, but his Samurai Blue team-mates had plenty to say following their Tuesday practice session
Jun 6, 2012 2:35:00 AM
By Dan Orlowitz
The announcement on Tuesday of Shinji Kagawa's transfer to Manchester United after weeks of speculation rocked the footballing world, spurring millions of fans to react to the move on social media networks worldwide.
While the player himself spurned reporters as he insisted on focusing on his national team duties, his Samurai Blue team-mates were more than willing to discuss their compatriot's bombshell move to the Premier League.
"For our generation, a Japanese player going overseas and joining a big club was something you'd only see in a comic book," Samurai Blue captain Makoto Hasebe reflected. "Shinji's giving kids something to dream about. It's incredibly big, what he's doing."
As Alberto Zaccheroni's side prepared for their Friday night 2014 World Cup qualifier with Jordan, one of Kagawa's team-mates threw his hat in the ring as the next Japanese player to join a top club.
"Shinji's the perfect player for a world-class team. As a fellow Japanese I'm proud of him," an unreserved Keisuke Honda told reporters. "But at the same time as a rival, I'm aiming to play at a big club too, and I think I'd fit in just as well."
Kagawa will become the fifth Japanese to play in the Premier League following Junichi Inamoto (Arsenal and Fulham), Kazuyuki Toda (Tottenham), Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton), and Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal and Bolton).
The 23-year-old will be the first Japanese player at Manchester United, who will also become the first club to have fielded players from Japan, South Korea and China.
"He can absolutely play well there, and as Japan's number 10 I think he'll be a major part of the team," said 19-year-old Miyaichi, who may play against Kagawa next season as a member of Arsenal's squad.
He added: "But first I have to earn my appearances. I'm looking forward to playing against him."
But despite the media hype, defender Atsuto Uchida managed to find humour in the announcement.
"Didn't they sign him because he doesn't have any big scandals?" the Schalke man laughed as he recalled 6-1 aggregate loss to the Premier League club in the 2010-11 Champions League semi-finals. "I bet he'll be on the front page in the morning."