Daichi Kamada has big dreams for his football career, starting with playing in the UEFA Champions League with Eintracht Frankfurt. - © DFL
Daichi Kamada has big dreams for his football career, starting with playing in the UEFA Champions League with Eintracht Frankfurt. - © DFL

Daichi Kamada on Eintracht Frankfurt's UEFA Champions League race, Shinji Kagawa and more

Daichi Kamada has established himself as a key man in the Eintracht Frankfurt team alongside the likes of Andre Silva, Filip Kostic and Luka Jovic who have the Eagles on the verge of UEFA Champions League qualification for the very first time.

Kamada sits down with bundesliga.com to discuss Eintracht's season so far, his development as a player personally, idolising Shinji Kagawa and his big dreams for the future...

bundesliga.com: How do you rate Eintracht's season so far? You are still in the fight for Champions League qualification...

Daichi Kamada: "At the start of the season I said that we wanted, at least, to qualify for the Europa League and hopefully for the Champions League at the end of the season. It's great that we're in a position to do that, but it doesn't surprise me that we are. We have good players and we knew that we could compete in and around the Champions League places."

bundesliga.com: How well do you think you have performed this season?

Kamada: "I've been able to get goals and assists since the start of the season and that's what I aim to do. It's also good for me that I can see clear progress compared to last season in my performances."

bundesliga.com: You have two games left to play, against Schalke and Freiburg respectively. How committed are you still, towards the end of the season, to give it your all in those two games?

Kamada: "Fighting for Champions League qualification isn't easy and it won't be an easy game for us, but we have to win. We want to do our best to make that happen."

bundesliga.com: How well-suited are you to Eintracht's attack-focused style of football?

Kamada: "Our playing style has developed throughout the season and isn't the same as it was when the campaign kicked off. The formation changes constantly, so I alter my own playing style to suit the players and the system around me. I try to strike the right balance."

Watch: Eintracht Frankfurt's flying Eagles

bundesliga.com: How do you see your development as a footballer? You are on your way to becoming a star!

Kamada: "I will be turning 25 soon and ideally I would have been able to reach this level earlier, perhaps two years ago. I'm not yet the finished article as a player though. I think I can still improve, so I just have to do whatever the team requires of me and keep working hard on my strengths. I'm still a long way from where I dream of being, but I believe I can get there if I continue to play the way I'm playing now. I will work hard every season to do that."

bundesliga.com: How have you and the team handled the appointments for 2021/22 of head coach Adi Hütter at Borussia Mönchengladbach and sporting director Fredi Bobic at Hertha Berlin?

Kamada: "These things can happen in the world of football. Frankfurt is a club that buys young players, develops them, sells them and buys new players all over again, so it's not unusual for the playing staff to change. It doesn't surprise me when the same happens to the head coach or any of the directors at the club. To me it's quite significant to lose Bobic though. He paid a lot of money to bring me to this team back when I wasn't very well known in Japan and he always believed in my potential, even when I wasn't playing. That's why I'm sad that he will be leaving."

bundesliga.com: Your teammate Makoto Hasebe has extended his contract at Frankfurt for another season. Could you describe his role in the team?

Kamada: "He knows his role in the team. He has a lot of experience and knows what he has to do. The coach also knows him well and knows what he's capable of. He's always a force to be reckoned with because he never has a poor performance in a match. Even when he isn't playing he is a player the coach can rely on, so the team values him highly. There are a lot of young players in the squad, so I think it's important for them to have a professional like Hasebe in their midst. He's a very important part of this team."

Japanese stars Daichi Kamada (l.) and Makoto Hasebe (r.) are the perfect mix of youth and experience for Eintracht Frankfurt. - imago images

bundesliga.com: What is your relationship with him?

Kamada: "First and foremost he's an interpreter. For the most part I can understand German through football, but if I don't understand something I can just ask and he will explain it to me in Japanese so that is great. In our personal lives we don't spend all our time together, but before the pandemic we would sometimes eat together and talk about something other than football. I don't see us as friends, I see him more like an older brother."

bundesliga.com: Last time we spoke you mentioned that you have to teach him the more modern things at times?

Kamada: "That happens a lot, but I can't think of an example right now. Often he doesn't know a Japanese word that I use and asks me what it means, so I explain it to him. I can't think of the word at the moment."

bundesliga.com: How did you get into football? How did your career in Japan get started and who introduced you to the game?

Kamada: "My parents, I think. In primary school I always loved to play football, but when I went to secondary school things got tougher and I wasn't always in the first 11. I began to get frustrated and stopped enjoying the game, so I considered quitting. However, I knew that my parents loved to watch me play and I knew how much they had done for me, so I decided to keep playing so that they could continue to watch me. It was also important to me to earn some money and give my parents a comfortable life. As a child I often thought about how I could do that and eventually I decided that football was the way. That's why I have kept going until today."

bundesliga.com: Tell us about your first professional club, Sagan Tosu.

Kamada: "Before I joined the club I took part in training at Sagan Tosu. The coach got very angry at me, so I thought to myself that I didn't want to join that team, but they were the only ones that gave me a chance so I had to go for it. I didn't know anything about Sagan Tosu, I only knew of one player in the first team. I joined the team blindly."

bundesliga.com: What is the highlight of your career so far?

Kamada: "The first things that come to mind are the two goals against Arsenal and the hat-trick against Salzburg."

bundesliga.com: What is the low point of your career so far?

Kamada: "The most painful moment was in my first year of high school, in the qualifying rounds of the Kyoto high school championships. That final was frustrating. The most difficult time was either in my second year of junior high school in the youth team at Gamba Osaka, or my first year at Eintracht Frankfurt."

bundesliga.com: There have been several Japanese footballers who have played in the Bundesliga over the years and there are a number currently playing in the league. Do you have any particular idols or role models amongst those players? If yes, what makes them stand out for you?

Kamada: "My idol in terms of Japanese players was always Shinji Kagawa, so I watched his highlights all the time. I also always watch how Shinji Okazaki plays the game."

bundesliga.com: Many young and talented Japanese players, such as Yuya Osako, Wataru Endo and Ritsu Doan have joined the Bundesliga in recent years. What do you think sets the Japanese players joining the league apart and what in particular about the Bundesliga appeals to young Japanese players?

Kamada: "In the Bundesliga, a lot of teams play a style of football that is emblematic of the modern game. It's hard fought and you have to run a lot. Playing in the Bundesliga will help me learn that style of play. A lot of Japanese players are technically skilled and good with their feet, so I think that if they can also play the way you have to in Germany they are capable of playing anywhere in the world. That's why I think it's good for young players to play here."

Only Filip Kostic (r.) has provided more assists for Eintracht Frankfurt in 2020/21 than Daichi Kamada (l.), and only Andre Silva (c.) has scored more goals. - DFL

bundesliga.com: What do you think are Eintracht's biggest strengths?

Kamada: "When I came to Frankfurt, in my first year or two at the club, the playing style was completely different to today. You could call it power-football. The style was intense with a high press and counter-pressing with quick players. I thought it would be tough for me, considering my playing style, to play here. I gradually learned how to play the way the team needed me to and more recently I have also been able to bring a bit of my own game into it. Our playing style had changed recently and we play aggressive football where, even though we concede, we outscore our opponents by attacking. I think we play attractive football for the fans watching back home."

bundesliga.com: What are your passions outside football?

Kamada: "At the moment Bundesliga players can't leave their house, so I'm either at home or at the stadium. No more shopping. We will go into a hotel-quarantine soon. I just play with my son or watch Manga and Japanese anime, or I work out alone."

bundesliga.com: You have already played in the Bundesliga and for the national team. What other goals or dreams do you have in football?

Kamada: "Since I was small I have always dreamt of playing for a team that wins the Champions League. My biggest dream is to hold the 'big ears' of the Champions League trophy. My current goal is to play for a team that can win the title."

bundesliga.com: Do you have a message or a greeting for your Japanese fans?

Kamada: "Thank you for always supporting us. There are a lot of Japanese players in the Bundesliga now, but not as many as previously. Thanks to the achievements of those before us there is a lot of interest in Japanese players and that is why we're playing in the Bundesliga now. I hope that we can continue to do well in the Bundesliga and show how good Japanese players are. I will do my best to create a pathway here for the next generation of good Japanese players."