Berlin - Japanese culture is not familiar with the concept of self-praise, which is why Hertha Berlin midfielder Hajime Hosogai would likely never, as his coach Jos Luhukay does, describe himself as “an indispensible player”.
That much has been evident in the tactician selecting the 28-year-old in his starting XI in nine out of the capital club’s ten Bundesliga fixtures this season. The only time Hosogai was not in the first team - the Matchday 3 defeat at home to 1. FSV Mainz 05 - was because he had only recently disembarked a long-haul flight after playing for Japan on international duty.
The reasons for Luhukay’s admiration become clear with a glance at his No7’s statistics. He runs almost 11 kilometres in every game and is second only to team-mate Roy Beerens in terms of the total distance covered by a Hertha player this term.
In addition to plugging the gaps in defensive midfield, Hosogai is resolutely unafraid to get stuck into tackles. He has won 46 per cent of all his challenges and despite his relatively small stature - he stands at 1.76 metres tall - Hosogai has won almost 55 per cent of his aerial duels.
The 29-time international has been fouled more often than any of his team-mates, 23 times so far, but Hosogai is not the kind of player to writhe around on the pitch or demand a yellow card for his opponent - that would go against the Japanese custom of taking pride in disguising your suffering. Instead he merely dusts himself down and gets straight back on his feet.
It is those precise qualities that Hertha need more of, having been so far in 2014/15. The side currently sit in 13th in the table having lost five, drawn two and won three - with each of those victories coming in the side’s three most recent outings on home turf.
Luhukay’s charges will be keen to extend that winning run at the Olympiastadion when Hertha welcome Hannover 96 to the capital on Matchday 11, in what is set to be Hosogai’s 46th competitive outing for the Old Lady since joining the club from Bayer 04 Leverkusen in 2013.
And after the disappointment of losing to SC Paderborn 07 last time out, the hosts are hoping to turn over a new leaf against the Reds on Friday evening. To that end, Hosogai, whose first name means ‘start’ in Japanese, will certainly be indispensable. As new beginnings go, they don’t get much more symbolic than that.