Hamburg - In both attack and defence, VfL Wolfsburg’s Makoto Hasebe gave it everything in the 1-1 draw against Hamburger SV on Matchday 32.
The captain of the Japanese national team was as solid as ever on the right side of defence, and managed to get on the scoresheet with a second-half header. Unfortunately for the Wolves, the result killed off any lingering chance they had at qualifying for Europe.
Speaking to bundesliga.com, however, the 29-year-old is already looking forward to next season. Hasebe also spoke about his development in Wolfsburg and the Bundesliga’s growing popularity in his home country.
bundesliga.com:Makoto Hasebe, this was your second goal of the season, but can you really be pleased?
Hasebe: Obviously I’m happy with the goal, but I’m not completely satisfied. We really had to win this game and we had so many chances to score a second. I would have been a lot more pleased had we managed it.
bundesliga.com: Before the game, Wolfsburg still had a faint chance of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, but that chance has now gone. How disappointed are you about that?
Hasebe: I’m extremely disappointed. If we’d won, Europe would still have been possible. But we ruined our chances at the start of the season, when we only had five points after eight games. That’s far too few. If we’d won two of those games, we’d still be in the mix, and that’s a huge shame.
bundesliga.com: But the team has played well since the turn of the year. Does that give you confidence for the coming season?
Hasebe: If you go eight matches unbeaten, then you’re definitely going in the right direction. But we’ve only won three of those eight games, and we needed to win more than that. We just haven’t taken our chances, like in this game against Hamburg. Next season we need to turn games like that into wins.
bundesliga.com: You have been with Wolfsburg since January 2008. How do you assess your five and a half seasons in Germany?
Hasebe: It’s been really good to be honest. I’ve only scored five goals in that time, and again that isn’t enough. I have one more year on my contract here, but I can definitely see myself extending my stay at VfL Wolfsburg.
bundesliga.com: Japanese players are now hugely popular in the Bundesliga, more so than ever before. How often do you encounter this love for Germany's top flight from Japan?
Hasebe: All the time. The Bundesliga is experiencing a boom in Japan, especially with the league’s success in the Champions League. For me, it's the strongest league in the world.
Interview by Michael Reis