Ritsu Doan feels Freiburg are pointing towards big things in the Bundesliga. - © IMAGO/ULMER/IMAGO/ULMER Pressebildagentur
Ritsu Doan feels Freiburg are pointing towards big things in the Bundesliga. - © IMAGO/ULMER/IMAGO/ULMER Pressebildagentur

Freiburg's in-form fashionista Ritsu Doan aiming for dream end to model season so far


After wowing fans across the globe with Japan at the 2022 World Cup, Freiburg attacker Ritsu Doan is keen to pick up where he left off on the domestic front, with his club scaling the heights in the Bundesliga.

The Japanese sensation helped his nation to a place in the 2022 tournament’s last 16 with goals in the victories against Germany and Spain. Now, however, Doan is ready to resume battle with the Bundesliga’s second-placed side, Freiburg. Ahead of this weekend’s big restart, the 24-year-old chatted with bundesliga.com and gave a taste of his very special character which continues to delight fans in Germany and beyond.

bundesliga.com: Are you surprised by Freiburg’s success this season?

Ritsu Doan: “I’m not that surprised because before I came here, I spoke with the coach and the sporting director and they told me we will be a top-six team in the next year. I’m [therefore] not surprised with our second-place finish after the first half of the season.”

Watch: Doan's key role as Freiburg see off Union Berlin

bundesliga.com: What are your thoughts on coach Christian Streich?

Doan: “He’s the best. I like him; I like his ideas and I like his personality. He’s always honest. If he’s not happy, he’ll show that he’s not happy, so a player knows. He doesn’t say false things. If you play well, he is very happy, he celebrates together with the players; his celebrations with us are crazy. I like everything about him, how he focuses on the football, it’s perfect.”

bundesliga.com: How did your teammates respond to your displays with Japan at the World Cup?

Doan: "They asked me how [the tournament] was going and, after the Germany game, many players texted me offering me congratulations for my goal and for the win. Günni [Christian Günter] and [Matthias] Ginter played there, but other players at the club didn’t play at the World Cup so they supported me a little bit. I was happy when they texted me.”

bundesliga.com: Did you come up with some new goals after the World Cup?

Doan: “Yeah, for me it’s very important now to stay hungry after the World Cup. I want to be and to give more and more. That’s what I tell myself every day now. I think for some players, if they are successful, then they can drop off mentally. But for me, I feel have to push myself to be better, for the supporters and for myself. That’s important.”

Doan (c.) scored as Japan stunned Germany in the group stage at the 2022 World Cup. - IMAGO/Heuler Andrey/IMAGO/Action Plus

bundesliga.com: In what aspects of your game can you improve?

Doan: “I think I need to be scoring more goals. I had many chances in the box [during the season] which I didn’t manage to convert. At the moment, I have four goals this season in all competitions, but I want ten. So, six goals more I think is a realistic goal. I’ll try to make it. In terms of defending, I’m getting much better now with the coach, so that’s also something I’d like to keep advancing with.”

bundesliga.com: Tell us about your first steps in football…

Doan: “When I was three or four years old, I started going to football school twice a week; more as a hobby, for fun. Then, at 12, I started going to Gamba Osaka’s academy and things started to get serious. At that time, I was thinking I wanted to be a [professional] football player. In that moment, when I was 12, that was the turning point for me.”

Watch: Doan hits dramatic winner in Leverkusen

bundesliga.com: Did you always want to play in the Bundesliga?

Doan: “Yeah, I think that comes from Shinji Kagawa. A lot of Japanese players wanted to play in the Bundesliga because [former Borussia Dortmund star] Kagawa was the best player in Japan at the time. I was also one of them. I had my dream to play in the Bundesliga come true when [Arminia] Bielefeld signed me [on loan last season]. It was very exciting. My decision was taken very quickly: one second, and then I thought, ‘I want to go’. It was easy.”

bundesliga.com: We’d like to know some more about your love of fashion…

“I don’t know [what to say]! You can check my Instagram, if you like. You’d have to see for yourself! I don’t know if you’d like [my style] or not. I like to get fashion, to buy clothes. I think [my teammates] like it [about me too]. There are a lot of nice brands from Japan. I like street style also, as does my teammate, [Jeong] Woo-yeong from Korea. He always contacts me and calls me saying things like, ‘I need this brand from Japan, can you get it for me?’, or things like that.”

bundesliga.com: And how are you finding the German food?

Doan: "It’s hard, honestly. It’s totally different here in terms of food culture. I hired a chef, my private chef from Japan, and he stays with me in Freiburg. He’s helped me a lot. He can cook everything. If I want to eat Chinese food he can cook it; if I want Italian, he can make that too; whatever. I will invite you next time, if you want!

"Beer? I just know that sausage and potato is the main dish in Germany, served with beer. Normally during the season I never drink alcohol. At the end of the season, after the last game, I always drink a beer. When I was at Bielefeld, we stayed up in the Bundesliga and after that, we drank. It was nice beer, cold, very nice, with great teammates.”

Happy days! Doan (l.) celebrates with teammates Vincenzo Grifo (c.)and Christian Günter (r.) - IMAGO/Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMO/IMAGO/Sven Simon

bundesliga.com: We understand that Freiburg have many new Japanese fans…

Doan: “Yes! Especially after the World Cup. When I score, the Japanese fans want to try to see the game. We’ll have to play well in the second half of the season, otherwise they might think ‘Oh, it’s not good!’ So we have to keep going as we are, as we did in the first half of the season, it’s really important!”

bundesliga.com: What is the secret to Freiburg’s success?

Doan: “I think it’s simple: we are a team. We’re one team, together. Even those who don’t play, who are on the bench, they push the players on the pitch, and if they come into the pitch, they do their job too. We work together with the coach, so a lot of players know his ideas; we know each other. I think that’s why we have been doing very well this season.”

Freiburg visit Wolfsburg in their Bundesliga return this Saturday at 15:30 CET.