LEICESTER ENGLAND PALM HARBOR, Fla. – New Leicester City midfielder Yuki Abe said on Thursday he has realized a “dream” by making his debut for the English Championship side.
“I watched English football all the time in Japan, and it’s always been a dream of mine to play here,” Abe said, two days after debuting for the Foxes at home against Cardiff City.
The former Urawa Reds man played the last eight minutes off the bench as Paulo Souza’s side took three points off second-place Cardiff in a 2-1 victory.
The 29-year-old Abe played in all four of Japan’s games at the World Cup in South Africa as Takeshi Okada’s side reached the second round before exiting on penalties against Paraguay.
Abe is the fifth player from the World Cup squad to have transferred to Europe following the tournament, after goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (Lierse SK), defenders Yuto Nagatomo (Cesena) and Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04) and forward Kisho Yano (Freiburg).
Abe, an Asian Champions League winner in 2007 with the Reds, will receive one of his stiffest tests of the season on Saturday as Leicester host Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers.
Leicester is currently fifth from bottom in the 24-team Championship.
“The goal for this team is crystal clear,” Abe said of Leicester’s potential return to the Premiership in seven years. “I just have to sacrifice myself for the team so we can achieve it.”