Japan’s old master and young upstart leading the Eintracht Frankfurt charge

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

They may both hail from Japan but that is about where the similarities end for the Eintracht Frankfurt pair of Makoto Hasebe and Daichi Kamada.

That and the fact that they are both shaping as key players in Eintracht’s quest to improve on last season, where they finished 7th in the Bundesliga and also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League.

German football’s top flight has long been synonymous with imports from the Land of the Rising Sun and – with their current duo – boasts a celebrated veteran and a rising star.

Eintracht Frankfurt’s Japanese Eagles: Makoto Hasebe & Daichi “The New Kagawa” Kamada

First, there is Hasebe, into his 12th season in the Bundesliga now and a former champion with Wolfsburg, who also captained Japan at three consecutive FIFA World Cups and retired from international football with 114 caps to his name.

Once a midfield general, the 35-year-old has evolved into the lynchpin of Frankfurt’s three-man defence and is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.

Then, there is Kamada, who is back at the Commerzbank-Arena following a loan spell with Sint-Truiden which saw him net 15 goals in the Belgian First Division A, and has already emerged as a main creative outlet supplying chances for the likes of Goncalo Paciencia, Andre Silva and Bas Dost.

They both hail from the same proud Asian footballing nation and are currently fighting for the same cause, but their personalities could hardly be more different.


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*** 合宿終了⚽️🏋🏻‍♂️🚣🏻‍♂️ #eintrachtfrankfurt #sge #仕上がり順調

A post shared by 長谷部誠 Makoto Hasebe (@makoto_hasebe_official) on

With the self-assuredness of a man who has been around for a long time now, Hasebe is vocal and confident on the pitch, and was teased by his younger compatriot for his proclivity to square up to officials and opponents alike with his shoulders spread open.

In return, he teased the more-unassuming Kamada for the lack of emotion shown, with his default celebration a simple pump of this fist – if he even scores that is.

“He [Kamada] is welcome to start scoring a few more goals,” Hasebe said in jest. “That’s one thing I’d like to see.

“He comes across as very laidback [but] at the same time he has a good measure of himself and his surroundings. Daichi’s definitely a player of huge potential.

“[He’s] really settled into the team and he’s combining well already with a lot of the other guys out on the pitch. He’s still young and, if he plays to his potential, he’ll keep making steady progress.”

Kamada and Hasebe celebrate Sebastian Rode’s stunner against Werder Bremen.

For all the banter they share, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Kamada views Hasebe as a role model.

“I can only say good things about him,” said the Ehime native. “Makoto’s a great guy and a great player, one that you can really look up to.

“I have massive respect for the way he performs in the Bundesliga and how he conducts himself in general.

“I admire him as a team-mate and a person.”

Kamada, who last Thursday scored his first international goal in Japan’s 6-0 win over Mongolia, also revealed that Hasebe has been helping him with the local lingo but – with the praise out of the way – it was soon back to the friendly jibes.


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Dankeschön top fans weiter🦅🦅 🇯🇵🇯🇵

A post shared by Eintracht Frankfurt 15 鎌田 大地 (@kamadadaichi) on

“I understand very little German so Hasebe helps me out a lot with that,” added Kamada. “In exchange, I teach him modern Japanese.

“He doesn’t get the abbreviation for ‘birthday present’ for example – that’s the modern Japan so I’m teaching him the way he’s teaching me German.

And what did Hasebe have to say in return?

“That’s not true,” replied the former Samurai Blue stalwart. “I maybe just don’t understand all the latest Japanese trends – the odd word here and there.

“The kind of Japanese I can do without,” he ended, with a wry grin.

Off the field, they are expectedly different but on it, both are gifted individuals fully committed to the Eintracht cause.

And with the old master holding court in the heart of defence, and the young upstart looking to wreak havoc up the other end, the Eagles could just have another season to remember in the Bundesliga and the Europa League.