TAkumi Minamino is a reliable, hardworking, immaculately disciplined, modest and slightly shy player. that's what makes the young japanese player so likeable.
We got the chance to sit down to talk to Takumi ahead of the last home match against SV Mattersburg about his life in Salzburg and future aims. You can read the entire interview HERE in the latest edition of Heimspiel magazine.
Even if it's a little belated by now, we would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you for your fantastic performance in Ried! You have scored a goal every 49 minutes on average this season - something not even Jonny Soriano has come close to matching with a goal every 129 minutes.
Thank you! I am pleased to have scored the three goals and been able to help the team. I don't want to compare myself to Jonny; that wouldn't be right. He has done so much for the club, whereas I have it all ahead of me still.
You could have even had a fourth goal in Ried. Why didn't you want to take the penalty?
Three goals is good enough! That's why I let Hee Chan Hwang take it. A lot of players wanted to take it, including Christoph Leitgeb, but it was Hwang who was fouled, so he was allowed to step up and he converted it fabulously.
You have scored five braces already in Salzburg but the hat-trick was your first! Did you even know how to say that in German?
No, but I had to do TV interviews after the match and the presenter explained to me that it's 'Trippelpack'.
How is your German coming along?
I am still going to German lessons, and it's getting better all the time. I am still a long way from being able to talk fluently with someone though. I understand a lot though, which makes it easier to communicate with my team-mates. It's always funny when I try to speak German with Hee Chan Hwang - for the other players too.
You have been living in Salzburg for two years now. How have you progressed in this time?
Well, I can order my own food in a restaurant now (laughs). No, I am really pleased with the way my football has developed, even though I know that there is still plenty of room for improvement. I feel really at home though and I am enjoying Salzburg as much as I can. It's a spectacular city, and I am starting to develop a taste for the food too. I brought my own rice cooker to begin with, but I've switched to pasta now. I often go with my translator, Yuki, to Munich, as there are some very good Japanese restaurants there.
Salzburg is a very popular destination for Japanese tourists. Do you ever get recognised in the city?
Very rarely, as the Austrian league isn't shown on Japanese television. You have to be quite a football expert to know me.
Your numbers of followers on Twitter and Instagram show though that you are very well known, if not famous in your homeland. How important is your social network presence?
I can communicate with my fans on Twitter and Instagram. I get a lot of news and fan mail, and this way I can give something back to people and show them insights into my life here in Austria.
There appear to be Japanese football fans around the whole world. You were being asked in Dubai for photos and autographs.
Yeah that is really unbelievable. No matter where we play there are always Japanese families there after the match who want to talk to me. I really appreciate that, and I am delighted that I have so many fans. Perhaps it is because Japanese people love to travel so much.
Do you still feel homesick?
That has gotten a lot better. I was really longing for home in the first few months, and I missed my family, plus the culture, food and lifestyle in Japan. Things were made very easy for me at FC Red Bull Salzburg though. My team-mates and the club staff gave me a fantastic welcome and looked after me so wonderfully, that it hasn't been difficult to start to feel at home in Salzburg.
How often do you fly home?
I can't go often more than two or three times per year because of our packed fixture list. I can fly back in the summer and winter breaks. That's ok though as my family now love being in Salzburg too and often fly over to visit me. They stay longer all the time too.
What do they think of the Austrian Bundesliga in Japan?
As I said it doesn't get shown on TV in Japan. People only watch the German, English, Spanish and Italian leagues. Japanese players in these leagues are superstars. As the only Japanese player in Austria, I'm only known by insiders or people interested in the national team.
What do your career plans look like?
I am very happy here in Salzburg, but I still have a lot to learn. I work very hard in every training session to get more playing time. I think that I am performing well and pleasing the coach with my performances and goals.
And where do you want to end up playing football?
I would love to play in the German Bundesliga someday. The stadiums, fans and the way football is played there impress me. I think I can do well there if I keep on working hard and continue to develop well. If I had to pick one of the top European leagues, if would definitely be the German Bundesliga.
our Number 18
other things to note
- Takumi Minamino was born on 16 January 1995 in Izumisano, Osaka.
- Before he came to FC Red Bull Salzburg in 2015, he played for Cerezo Osaka, who are in the J1 League.
- He started his career with the youth team of the Cherry Blossoms - as the club is known.
- He made his debut in the Japanese national team on 13.10.2015.
- He has made 77 competitive appearances for the Red Bulls, in which he has scored 26 goals.