BONN, Germany – Naohiro Takahara is determined to banish his World Cup ghosts and said Saturday he is eager to spearhead Japan’s attack at the upcoming finals in Germany.
Takahara had his World Cup dreams shattered when he was ruled out of the 2002 finals after being struck down with deep vein thrombosis, a lung problem commonly known as economy class syndrome.
Takahara recovered from illness and hit a rich vein of form, scoring 26 goals for Jubilo Iwata to win the 2002 J. League Player of the Year award and earn a move to German League club Hamburg SV.
But a recurrence of the same disease also scuppered his chances of representing Japan as an overage player at the Athens Olympics, and Takahara says he is delighted to have finally been given the opportunity to shine on the world’s biggest stage.
“I’m delighted to be here,” Takahara told reporters after Japan completed its first training session in Germany since arriving in Bonn on Friday.
“Obviously I was very sad to have missed the last World Cup in my home country, and it’s great that I can play in Germany, my second home. I want to score goals,” said Takahara, who will join Eintracht Frankfurt after a frustrating fourth season at Hamburg SV.
Takahara is set to start alongside Atsushi Yanagisawa as Japan warms up for its opening Group F game with a friendly against Germany on Tuesday.
Takahara joined Hamburg four years ago but has seen little first team action this season and only managed one goal in 20 league appearances this term. He will join Frankfurt after the World Cup.