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Exclusive Interview: Michihiro Yasuda - Vitesse Arnhem and Japan

Michihiro Yasuda's meteoric career at Gamba Osaka saw him lift domestic trophies while still a teenager and face Cristiano Ronaldo in a FIFA Club World Cup game in 2008, when the Japanese full-back was still only 20.  

After a spell with the Japanese national team and a serious injury that limited Yasuda's activity in 2009, "Michi" transferred to Vitesse Arnhem in December 2010. In spite of a bumpy start, it took only a few games for Yasuda to earn the respect of supporters in Holland.

Speaking to, the 23 year-old spoke openly about his experience in the Eredivisie so far and his desire to return soon to the national team.

Goal: In one of your first interviews after your transfer, you said that Dutch football is faster than its Japanese equivalent. Are you getting used to it?

Yes, I think I'm O.K. now. The speed and the intensity are clearly different here from that in the J-League; especially transitions from defence to attack and pressing on the player with the ball.

Goal: Japanese players, since the days of Ogura, Ono and Hirayama, have always done well in Holland. Now, you, Yoshida, Cullen and Miyaichi are all regular starters. Why do you think Japanese players fit well in the Dutch league?

I reckon Japanese footballers are serious professionals and in general have good technique. If you add a positive mentality and the capacity to get along with the different realities one meets overseas, I believe that most Japanese players can do well here. The Netherlands are well known for their total football; the positions of the players are subject to continuous changes and all the players participate both in the defensive and attacking phases. This is similar to the football the Japanese national team is playing and that is perhaps another reason why Japanese players fit well with Dutch football.

Goal: Ryo Miyaichi is at Feyenoord - on loan from Arsenal - and at 18 he is a sensation both in Holland and in Japan. You have played against him recently. What was your impression of that game and of him in general?

Miyaichi has an outstanding pace and is able to show his great technique even when he's running at top speed. He's a big threat for defenders. Japan hasn't produce many attackers like him so far. He certainly has a bright future ahead of him.

Goal: Most of the other Japanese players in Europe are concentrated in Holland, Germany and Belgium. Are you in touch with the others?

Sometimes I meet the other Japanese players around Europe or I talk with them. For example, last week I watched the match between "Ucchi's" (Atsuto Uchida) Schalke and Leverkusen at the stadium and recently I also went to watch the Bundesliga 2 match between Tese-san (Chong Tese)'s Bochum and Soma-san's (Takahito Soma) Cottbus.

Goal: Among the Japanese in Europe, two of your rivals for a full-back slot in Zaccheroni's Japan are Yuto Nagatomo at Inter and Atsuto Uchida at Shalke. Do you think you will be back soon with the Samurai Blue?

"I reckon Japanese footballers are serious professionals and in general have good technique. If you add a positive mentality and the capacity to get along with the different realities one meets overseas, I believe that most Japanese players can do well here."

The national team is always in my mind. I'm sure I will be back in the squad if I play well here in Holland and I'm confident that I am worthy of wearing the national team jersey again. Uchida and Nagatomo are surely great rivals for me. Their good performances gives me huge motivation but I think my greatest rival at the moment is myself.

Goal: How did you and the other Japanese players in Europe react to the big tragedy that hit Japan recently?

Truly, I don't have words to describe the shock that I felt from the news about this tragic disaster in Japan. At Vitesse, we played a game with black armbands to show our solidarity. The important thing for us now is to do our best in everyday's training, to perform well in games to provide a positive inspiration to the people of Japan.  

Goal: What do you miss from Japan?

For now, nothing - really! I get news from Japan via internet and exchange e-mails with my friends there. Above all, I think I'm enjoying my life here in Netherlands.

Goal: So, besides football, how is everyday's life in Holland?

Everyday is great. It's been getting warmer recently and I go downtown often.

Goal: How do you communicate with people in Holland, in particular with your coaches and team-mates?

I speak with them in English. All the squad members and the manager can speak English but I'm still not a perfect speaker. Just studying. And I'd like to learn to speak some Dutch too.

Goal: Do you hope to keep playing in Holland? Do you see yourself spending most of your career in Europe? What are your projects and your dreams for the future?

At the moment I'm concentrating only on getting good results with Vitesse, it is my club and what I care about. Good results may bring me some offers from the other teams but I would think about that only after I received them. Of course, as all footballers do, I hope that in the future I will play for a big club! [Laughs] Moreover, I would end my playing career back at Gamba Osaka. I have no concrete plan yet for the life after retirement but I'm also thinking of doing something other than football.

Translation supervised by Teppei Takano

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