In this fourth edition of The Talking Game, Bundesliga editor Aditya Balaram interviews Eintracht Frankfurt’s playmaker Takashi Inui. Read on to see what Inui has to say about the quality of Japanese players, the challenges of adjusting to life in Germany, and Frankfurt’s dream of European football.
The Bundesliga’s far-east love affair is well known. Ever since the 2010 World Cup, many Japanese players have found crossover success at Germany’s top clubs. Takashi Inui has become one of the top names of the Bundesliga’s “Japanese revolution”. Inui had a stand-out season with VfL Bochum in the 2.Bundesliga last season, before he joined newly-promoted Eintracht Frankfurt and helped the The Eagles take the Bundesliga by storm.
Aditya Balaram: The bridge in quality between Asian club football and European/South American club football is huge. What, according to you, is the primary reason for this?
Takashi Inui: Well, I think that the J-League is a bit stronger than the German Second League. Here in Germany it is quite hard to even prevail in the training sessions and later on the pitch as well — that seems to be a bit harder. Moreover, it is a completely different type of football.
Q: The Japanese contingent in the Bundesliga is growing with every passing transfer window. Why are Japanese players choosing the Bundesliga?
Inui: Japanese players do have good technical and speed skills. These characteristics match very well with the Bundesliga. That’s why we do well here.
Q: Do you see most Japanese players in the Bundesliga following in Shinji Kagawa’s footsteps and making a move to the more lucrative Premier League in the next few years?
Inui: Yes, of course I do. I think the Japanese do have the quality to follow the footsteps of successful players like Shinji, but whether the Japanese players are gonna conquer the Premier League, I can’t tell.
Q: One interesting thing about the incoming Japanese players is that many of them are attackers. Why do you think we are seeing this trend?
Inui: As mentioned before, I think this is thanks to their good technical skills and speed.
Q: Fans in Asia follow the Premier League keenly, despite the small number of Asian players in the league. Do you think the Bundesliga can catch up with the Premier League in terms of worldwide following, with the influx of Japanese and other Asian players to the Bundesliga?
Inui: Yes, of course the Bundesliga is catching up with the Premier League. To show this, the best example is the “German” Champions League Finals in Wembley: two German teams, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, are the two top teams in Europe.
Q: How hard was the shift from Japan to Germany, both in a cultural and footballing sense?
Inui: It has been quite hard to me in Bochum. The way of playing is more physical one in the Second League. But in Frankfurt I haven’t had any problems. The weather in general could be a bit better, that’s for sure. [Smiles] And the German food, hmm, it’s actually much better for me to have Japanese food, otherwise I think I would gain a lot of weight.
Q: Has there been anyone in particular who has helped you in getting used to life in Germany?
Inui: Actually there have been quite a lot of Japanese people who helped me to cope with the situation, thus I didn’t feel homesick.
Q: Do you frequently keep in touch with the other Japanese players in Germany?
Inui: Yes, I often meet up with Uchida (Schalke), Kiyotake (Nürnberg), as well as the Japanese National team and FFC Frankfurt player, Saki Kumagai.
Q: You played against Eintracht for Bochum last season. What changes at Eintracht were the key to taking the club from a second division side to one that is fighting for European football?
Inui: When I played against Eintracht I experienced it as a very strong team, but as I’ve only been a player of Eintracht Frankfurt for one season, I don’t know the main changes within the team from two years ago.
Q: What can we expect from you and Eintracht Frankfurt in the remainder of the season?
Inui: Well hopefully that we top our fantastic season with one of the international positions in the league. That’s what we absolutely want.
TheHardTackle would like to thank Takashi Inui for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as Press Officer Ruth Wagner for helping to conduct the interview. For more information on Eintracht Frankfurt, you can visit their official page here.