thumbnail Hello,

The experienced Australia international only got on the pitch in the final 20 minutes of the game, but didn't waste any time in his attempts to make an impression on a new league

Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill says the pace of J-League compared favourably with the English Premier League after making his debut in the Japanese top flight on Saturday.

The 35-year-old defender came off the bench but was unable to prevent his new club Omiya Ardija from slumping to their seventh successive defeat, a 3-2 loss at home to Kashiwa Reysol.

A veteran of two World Cups and a former Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United player, Neill is well acquainted with the highest level of the professional game, and believe the J-League matched up well with his forming stomping ground in England.

"The game was as fast as in the Premier League and the crowd was very noisy," he said.

"I got a yellow card but I was pleasantly surprised by how physical the game was. There were a lot of tackles, body contact ... and most of my team-mates are very big. This is very important in modern football."

Neill's previous match at club level came for Sydney FC in March, and with just three Socceroos outings under his belt since then, Neill was surprised to find himself thrust into the action so soon since arriving in Japan.

"It was a nice surprise to already be called up. The team [had] lost six in a row and confidence was a bit low, but we played a good game. We deserved at least a draw and I should have scored at the end," he added, referring to a late header which grazed the bar.

Omiya, who sacked their coach shortly before signing Neill, hosted Kashiwa at their NACK5 Stadium home, where they succumbed to yet another league defeat, a sorry record Neill hopes the team will be able to turnaround soon.

"It was a great atmosphere, both teams played attacking football with a good pace," he said.

"We played against a very good team, though they came from a mid-week game and were missing two players. Not all of our opponents will be this good.

"Because of our low confidence we have [made] some mistakes we need to fix; we need to score the first goal and we need to get back to winning games. When I went in the coach just told me to go ahead and enjoy myself and try to get us back in the game. I'm glad for the chance and for the time I was given [on the pitch]."

While his team-mates battle to halt their nightmare form slump, Neill's immediate priority is to break down the language barrier standing in the way of his full integration into the dressing room.

"Communication with my team-mates is okay; it will get better. I've learned everyone's name and a few words in Japanese - right, left, up, down, good, etc. Football language is universal, and when you don't know what to say you just give a big shout."

  Goal Australia has its own and account, so for all the latest news and features on Australian football follow us by clicking on the above links