Exclusive JSoccer Magazine Interview

Daigo Nishi

Newly-announced Urawa Reds manager Ricardo Rodriquez - who steered Tokushima Vortis to promotion in 2020 - made one of his first acquisitions for the new team by convincing Daigo Nishi to accept a new challenge in Saitama. The former Vissel Kobe no.22 adds another chapter to a storied career, with a move to the Reds.

Nishi spoke to JSoccer Magazine in mid-December, upon his return from Doha, where Vissel Kobe took part in the 2020 Asian Champions League tournament, and shortly after he had spoken with future manager Rodriguez. He discussed his plans to move to Saitama for the 2021 season, adding that he still would like to play overseas, at some point -- though only after he helps restore the Reds to their glory days! But we're getting ahead of ourselves, and his is a fascinating story.


"My father saw me getting into the game when I was six years old, in my first year at school. He decided that the best way to support me was by studying to become a coach. He earned all the badges up to a Grade A license. But that was the extent of his progress since he had no one to recommend him for the next step, and there were limited spaces for coaches to take those courses, in Sapporo. Most of the available spots went to former (or current veteran) players who were already in the game, and had reputations/connections to back them up. He told me that his dream was to become the National Team coach, so that I could play for him as a member of Samurai Blue. He is still coaching today."



"My mom told me I should be playing at a team like Kashima Antlers (where a player's contribution to the team as a whole is viewed as more important than "spectacular plays"). When Mr. [Mitsuru] Suzuki came and made me an offer, I was very honored (for a better idea of just how well-respected Mitsuru Suzuki is throughout Japanese football, and his enormous influence at Kashima, see JSoccer Magazine Issue no23). I was happy to see (at Kashima) such a professional approach to the game, and to my contract negotiations."


[Mr. Suzuki] wasn't that easy on me. I really wanted to go overseas, but he discouraged me. He did not think I was ready. I think if I had pushed a little bit harder I would have been allowed to go. But after I left Antlers, I began to appreciate, and see more clearly, the many good things that were happening there. The standard is top-drawer throughout the club, but especially for the players who take part in [daily first-team] training. The new players are brought up and pressed to perform at the level of the very best players; not the other way around. I improved so much in my eight years at the club."

If you would like to read the rest of this article, pdf versions of the entire JSoccer Magazine Issue no30. are available now

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