Although a Japanese player, Keita, who entered the K-League before the J-League, became more immersed in life in Korea and Daegu FC soccer in her second year of the K-League.
Daegu’s left wingback Keita has a unique history. As he decided to participate in a European soccer camp at the age of 14, he played in Japan until high school, then moved to Montenegro and debuted as a professional player on the European stage. And last year, he joined Daegu and moved to Korea.
As if it was no coincidence that he stepped on the K-League stage before the J-League, he has characteristics suitable for the Korean stage. He takes a step further, actively competes with his opponent, and intercepts the ball. It may not be flashy due to his position or play style, but he plays an indispensable role in the team.
As he adapts to the K-League,ㅋㅋㅋ벳 Keita’s role in the team is gradually increasing. He went back and forth between starting and replacing at the beginning of the transfer, and starting from last summer, the frequency of starting appearances increased. In particular, his recent performances are compliant. Although he could not start the season due to an injury, he was replaced in the match against Gangwon FC in the 3rd round, and after returning, he has been starting for 7 consecutive matches from the 4th round. Daegu coach Choi Won-kwon expressed his intention to use the two players wisely, saying, “Keita is doing well, too,” when Hong-chul, the Korean national team defender, returned from injury in the same position.
Korean fans use the expression ‘passports must be confiscated so that foreign players do not leave’ when they perform well. In a written interview with Keita, he explained the meaning and asked if the current trend would mean that he should pay more attention to passport management soon, and the answer came back, ‘(Laughter for 5 seconds)’. Keita thanked the fans for their support, saying, “I really like Korea and I like the Korean fans. I am always grateful for the good evaluations and support. The fans’ praise is the driving force for me to work harder.”
The following is an interview with Keita
– It has been over a year since I came to Korea. You must have gotten used to life in Korea by now.
Before coming to Korea, I lived in Europe (Montenegro) for a long time. Compared to Europe, it was easier to adapt to Korea. There were many similarities between Korea and Japan in terms of soccer and everyday culture, so there was no difficulty in adapting.
– There are some players in Daegu who have experience playing in Japan. I think it helped me adapt on and off the field.
It was comfortable to have players who played in Japan and could speak Japanese. I lost my mind Inside the stadium, defender Cho Jin-woo can speak Japanese, so we can communicate easily. Including the daily life, kit manager Kim Dong-kyu is helping me the most. Thank you.
– I wonder what it is like outside the arena. What I usually do on my break days
is to visit nearby restaurants and cafes to enjoy a break. There are many good restaurants and cafes around Palgongsan Mountain in Daegu, so I visited often. Suseong Lake was also good. Outside of Daegu, I traveled to Gyeongju and Pohang. It was beautiful.
– This year, you are showing more progress than last season. In the second year, if there was something I prepared with more care during winter training,
I paid more attention to the mental part. Entering my second year, I decided to do better as I adapted to life in Korea. Technical efforts are important, but I thought that I needed to become stronger and change mentally as well.
– In the K-League, which foreign players evaluate as physically strong and fierce, they are active in competing and tackling.
Originally, it was a style to work more actively because it was judged to be physically weak. When I went to the European stage, I felt my physical weakness more prominently. To make up for this, I thought that I had to work harder and harder. In Daegu, I am trying to be more active to show better performances with players like Sejingya and Ko Jaehyun. I think that suits Daegu soccer as well.
– What do you think are your strengths and what do you want to show more on the K-League stage?
The strength I think is stealing the opponent’s ball when defending. What I want to show more is that after winning the ball, I start a counterattack right away. After stealing the ball, I want to create more images of the player in front getting a chance and scoring a goal by delivering a through pass.
– Can play multiple positions. Which position are you most confident in?
I am the most confident of the left sideback I am currently in charge of. I tried as a central midfielder, but it is not easy to receive the ball with your back to the opponent. He’s confident that he’ll have his back on the line. He is also left-footed, so he is more comfortable playing on the left side.
-In the 7th round against Gwangju FC, he scored his debut goal with an equalizer to catch up with a 3-goal gap. However, it was a situation where the atmosphere had to be continued for a reversal, and it seems that it was difficult to fully enjoy the moment of the debut goal after losing the game unfortunately
. I wasn’t very happy because I was only thinking about our team’s results. I never thought about it again after that. If it was a come-from-behind goal, I think I would have been happy.
– You scored your K-League debut goal in the second year. Have you ever imagined the moment of your debut goal, what if you score a goal next time?
I’ve never thought about the K-League debut goal alone (laughs). When I imagine my next goal, I want to break through one of the opposing defenders with a dribble break in a situation where my team is winning, then kick a left-footed shot to score a goal.
– Korean fans often use the expression ‘passports should be confiscated so that foreign players don’t leave’ when they perform well. If it’s the current trend, I think I’ll have to pay attention to my passport management soon
(laughs for 5 seconds). I really like Korea and I like Korean fans. Thank you always for your good ratings and support. Praise from fans is the driving force to work harder
– What do you want to achieve in the K-League?
The goal is to focus on each given game, one game at a time, and do your best to win.
– What do you want to achieve in your long-term soccer life, such as being selected for the national team?
To be honest, I don’t think it will be easy to be selected for the Japanese national team based on your play style. I don’t have dreams for the national team, but I want to put my soccer life and my team first. Also, because I have experienced the European stage, I have a desire to play in the European Champions League.