• Kyodo


On a freezing, snowy day, former Cerezo Osaka midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi was introduced to the German media on Tuesday by his new Bundesliga club, Hannover.

“I felt at the (2014) World Cup that as an individual, I was lacking strength and from that point I began thinking about moving,” the 25-year-old told a press conference at the team’s stadium, HDI-Arena. “As a player, I want to improve in every aspect.”

With Hannover, the 24-time-capped Yamgauchi will join up with compatriots Hiroshi Kiyotake and Hiroki Sakai.

“We believe that Hotaru Yamaguchi has the qualities to make it in the Bundesliga,” explained Hannover chief executive Martin Bader. “Hotaru is a Japan international, who’s been on our radar for a while. We’re delighted we’ve been able to sign him. Having two of his Japan teammates . . . here will definitely help him integrate in the first few weeks.”

With Hannover holding its first practice after the winter break, Yamaguchi took part, playing in a mini game as a defensive midfielder.

“It doesn’t snow in Osaka, so I was surprised,” he said.

New Hannover coach Thomas Schaaf praised his club’s new signing.

“Yamaguchi is a very hard working player. He’s intelligent and reads the game well,” said Schaaf. “With this practice on the first day, it struck me how far they are willing to push.”

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