Nürnberg - Japan national team captain Makoto Hasebe was presented as a new player during Thursday's press conference with club coach Michael Wiesinger and sporting director Michael Bader.
The 29-year-old joined the Franconians on deadline day, making the switch from fellow Bundesliga outfit VfL Wolfsburg, with whom he won the league in 2008/09.
After Nürnberg’s difficult start to the season, Hasebe’s experience will be crucial in trying to help the club pick up their first win this weekend against Eintracht Braunschweig having already sensed the warmth of his new club's fans. "The atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and I'll give everything for Der Club," said an enthusiastic Hasebe. "I'm just delighted to be here."
During the 30-minute press conference, Bader made it clear that the transfer “was not easy," adding that "Makoto had to force it through himself”. Wolfsburg were understandably reluctant to sell a player who “enjoyed a high standing after six years there”. By hook or by crook, a deal was struck and Wiesinger is excited about finally having the Japanese midfielder on board. "Makoto will bring his leadership qualities and footballing abilities to us immediately," he said.
Home from home
Hasebe's arrival was delayed slightly due to being on international duty for Japan over the past ten days, but he has already been briefed on what to expect by his new Nürnberg team-mate and national team colleague Hiroshi Kiyotake. "Kiyo[take] has been informing me all about the club and the fans," said Hasebe, adding reassuringly: "I've only heard positive things from him."
Bader was just as optimistic about a player whose strength of character sets him apart. The Japanese international is an adaptable individual, his German is good, and he was pivotal in helping VfL Wolfsburg to their first Bundesliga title just over four years ago, and as he put it himself, "the last six years in Germany have been vital to my personal development, thanks to the contact with a new culture".
Whether that cultural knowledge stretches as far as picking up the local Franconian twang so quickly is questionable, "I can only say 'Servus' and 'Grüß Gott' [local forms of address]" joked the affable Hasebe - but one area of Germanic life his knowledge does encompass is that of classical literature and philosophy, "I've already read Goethe and Nietzsche".
Coach Wiesinger is expecting big things from his new signing. "He'll bring us plenty of important qualities, on and off the field, and improve us as a club". Hasebe will duly oblige, while he expects playing in his "favourite position as a no. 6" can help him guide the famous club into calmer waters, and for the Franconian faithful, that will be the true measure of the man.