Mönchengladbach - 1. FC Nuremberg continue to serve up the surprises in the Bundesliga. Saturday's 3-2 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach secured a new club record of four top-flight wins in a row away from home, going back to the end of last season. And it also saw the emergence of yet another Japanese talent in the German game.
22-year-old midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake, brought in from Osaka over the summer, netted the winning goal against the Foals to add to his three assists for the season, and his teammates have been full of praise for the up-and-coming youngster. "He's always great when he has an idea and an opportunity to win the game," said Nuremberg keeper Rafael Schäfer. "He took his chance really well. We're delighted he came back from the Olympics in one piece and has been able to help us progress so quickly."
Centre-back Timm Klose is even trying to learn some Japanese, "so I can communicate with him in training. Everyone in the squad is trying to get involved so that he feels comfortable here." And talking after the game at Gladbach, Kiyotake came across as being thoroughly at ease already.
Question: You'd already laid on a few goals in the Bundesliga, now you've scored one yourself. How did that feel?
Kiyotake: I'm delighted that I managed to win the game with the goal I scored, but I also have to give credit to the team, who have helped me with my own game so much.
Question: Your performance is even more impressive given the travelling you had to do during the week. How do you cope with the long trips involved with playing for Japan?
Kiyotake: That doesn't just affect me, but lots of international players, so it can't be used as an excuse. It's just part of what we do. I played two full matches with the national team, but that also helped me produce the performance I did today.
Question: How have you settled in during your first three months in Nuremberg?
Kiyotake: It's getting better every day.
Question: How difficult did you find it adapting to the Bundesliga?
Kiyotake: At the moment I'm playing the same way I did back in Japan. The physical robustness of the Bundesliga and the longer legs, that are still getting the ball off me too often - those things are certainly noticeable. I'm losing possession too often. I've got to adapt even more to that.
Question: What's your assessment of Nuremberg's start to the season, having taken seven points from three matches against difficult opposition?
Kiyotake: In football anything is possible. I believe that we're nowhere near our own limit yet. So we'll continue to give everything in training week in, week out.
Question: You say the team aren't playing at their limit yet. Is that also true of you?
Kiyotake: If I get on the ball more often, I can play even better. First off, I have to start demanding the ball more, in training as well.
Question: Some observers were comparing your goal to many of those scored by your compatriot Shinji Kagawa over the past couple of years at Borussia Dortmund...
Kiyotake: Shinji loves goals like that. Hopefully I can continue in the same vein as well.
Interview by Tobias Gonscherowski