By Jong Tae-Se
I made my first appearance since the surgery last week, and I wanted to score a goal and set my pace for North Korea's match against Japan whether I started or came off the bench this week.
Starting with the disappointment over our results in the Asian Cup, I had a lot of injuries in the second half of last season; it was the most bad luck I've had since my rookie year. Additionally I couldn't appeal to the national team because of my surgery, so with the Japan match coming soon it was very important that I started this week. Additionally I've been doing really well in practice; running for half an hour afterwards may have helped. But it felt like all of my shots were going in.
Bochum has stumbled since openinG day, and none of our starting forwards have scored in the first five matches, so between that timing and my condition I thought that maybe I would get a chance. I thought positive thoughts and was aiming to set myself up for a big match against Japan, but the result was… I didn't play at all!!!
It's disappointing. It's really disappointing.
I'm really sorry to all of the Japanese reporters who came to the match.
More than anyone else I think I was the most disappointed. Am I really the third choice for centre-forward?
But last season I became too tired from worrying, so I changed my way of thinking to not worry about mistakes. So now I'm fine with it.
It's all about next time! I'm not angry or worried. I tell myself every time that there's no reason to not stay positive. I'm going to be great against Japan!
By the way, Japan's roster was announced on the 25th. There were two things I was surprised at.
I wrote about it in my blog, but one thing is that my team-mate Takashi Inui wasn't selected. It could be because Bochum is only a second division team, but he's leading the team by himself despite our struggles this season so it's very disappointing. I was really hoping to play against him at Saitama Stadium. But it also means that Japan has a lot of superior players. Players that don't play in league matches can play on the national team, while completely unique players get left off the squad. Football's a complicated sport!
However, Takashi has a bright future ahead of him so I'm not worried. He's playing in another dimensions, so I can see him playing well once we get up to the first division. Nobody can stop him.
The other thing I was surprised at is Kengo Nakamura returning to the national team for the first time in a year.
Since the World Cup, he hasn't been called up even though he's been doing well with his team [Kawasaki Frontale]. Even I've been worrying about him. But now he's been called up and he's ready to play! Lately I think he's been invited to help the next generation grow, but I think that's a good thing.
Football players get asked one question frequently: "Who's the best player that you've played with?"
I answered this question several years ago on a TV show, but my answer was "Kengo Nakamura and Yasuhito Endo". Even in a country with a treasure trove of talented midfielders, they stand above the rest. And of course, Kengo has helped me out a lot since our days together at Frontale. The successes in my career are largely thanks to Kengo, [then-manager] Takashi Sekizuka, and [team-mate] Juninho.
I can't count the number of goals I scored on Kengo's assists, we were called a 'hotline' at one point. That a player as slow as me was able to break through the back line and get the ball was thanks to his great passing. He even said I was like his son when I transferred to Bochum. His words made me really happy. When things aren't going so well I always think of what he said.
So I'm really looking forward to playing against 'Papa Kengo.'
The Japan match is soon.
I want to play against Japan, a team that has become a very big part of my life, with all of my energy.
"He's not playing for his team?"
"His condition hasn't improved since the surgery?"
"He hasn't played in several months?"
"Bochum is in the second division?"
None of those questions matter. On September 2, I want to silence everyone asking them.
And at Saitama Stadium I'll do it not with boos, but with cheers and applause from the supporters.
I've been looking for my home for a long time. I haven't been able to find just one yet, but my biggest home is Japan.
Thank you for your support.
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