FRANKFURT – Makoto Hasebe rewrote a record for the most Bundesliga appearances by a Japanese player when he took the pitch for his 235th match in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 loss to Freiburg at home on Sunday.
The 33-year-old midfielder went one better than Yasuhiko Okudera who held the previous record, though the celebratory mood faded fast as Frankfurt wasted an early lead won through Sweden striker Branimir Hrgota after 11 minutes and suffered its fourth straight defeat.
“The results are everything so I’m not feeling any joy (about the record),” said Hasebe, who captained Frankfurt in the record-setting match which he said meant no more than any other.
“I played the same way I always do. I hope to set an unreachable record so the younger players won’t be able to beat it,” he said.
Hasebe left Urawa Reds to begin his Bundesliga career with Wolfsburg in 2008 and helped it win its maiden league title in his first season with the club.
He moved to Nuremberg in 2013 before joining Frankfurt in the summer of 2014.
Hasebe’s feat is all the more impressive as it puts him ahead of Okudera, the first Japanese player to play professionally in Europe. Okudera moved from the predecessor of JEF United Chiba to Germany in 1977 and spent almost 10 years playing for clubs in Cologne, Berlin and Bremen before returning to end his playing career in Japan in 1986.