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Japan made me the player I am today - Davidson

Australia's impressive young left-back credits a formative stay in 'the Land of the Rising Sun' as a major factor in his rise to the biggest stage in the football world

The sun and sand of Brazil might be a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo but for Jason Davidson, he knows he probably wouldn't be experiencing one if it wasn't for the other.

As Davidson prepares to make his third appearance at this World Cup with the Socceroos against Spain, he remembers an "extreme" time in his young life that has played a big role in getting him where he is today.

At just 14, he caught the eye of Japanese scouts during a youth tournament and was offered a scholarship at Seiritsu Gakuen, a renowned sports school in Tokyo.

It was a big move for a teenager, who only ever knew of life with his family in the suburbs of Melbourne.

The school is known for trying to weed out the weaker players from the tougher ones, which is why they have gone on to churn out a host of current Japanese internationals.

And Davidson learned quickly just what happens if you didn't fall into line or meet the school's expectations.

"It was quite extreme. When I arrived late one day as punishment they not only shaved my head but everyone's head," Davidson told www.socceroos.com.au

"It was a bit of a culture shock for me because coming from Australia and going to a country where I didn't speak the language and not knowing their ethics or anything was tough.

"It was pretty hard to adjust, especially at my age.

"But when you rock up late to training and they shave your head, you have to learn pretty quickly."

Davidson, whose grandmother was from Hiroshima, spent three years at the school before returning to Australia aged 17.

Even with the difficult regime, different lifestyle and strange punishments he endured, Davidson loved the experience and believes it's played a key role in his success so far in his career.

"It's made me the football player I am today and made me the person I am today," he said.

"I'm 22 years old now and I've lived away from home for eight years so I think the three years in Japan really made me strong enough to live overseas and live in Europe and pursue my dream.

"It's not easy to be away from family and I think it really strengthened me as a young boy."

Fast-forward five years and Davidson's career has gone from strength to strength.

He has established himself as a key member of Eredivisie club Heracles' defence and is also a starter in a Socceroos side aiming to heap more misery on humbled 2010 World Cup winners Spain.

Of course football runs through the Davidson family blood, with his father Alan a Socceroos great.

Davidson senior made 79 appearances for the national team in a glittering career from 1980 to 1991. He was so good that the former South Melbourne defender was a wanted man by legendary English manager Brian Clough, at the time managing powerhouse Nottingham Forest.

"He's been a big influence. He tries to support me and give me advice and it's been a road and a journey that we've been through together," Jason said of his Dad.

"He's been there since day one and it's good to have someone in my corner who's lived the road and knows what it's all about."

Interestingly Jason is not the only current Socceroo with a father-son link. Oliver Bozanic's father Vic also played for the national team, albeit briefly.

"He doesn't really like to talk about his career much but I hear more from other people and they tell me he was a great legend and a great footballer," added Jason of his father.

"He's my dad and that's how I look at him. I know he's a legend and I'm proud of him and if I can be just as good as him I'll be proud."

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