Keisuke Honda reafirms commitment to Victory in innaugural press conference

Keisuke Honda reafirms commitment to Victory in innaugural press conference

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The Keisuke Honda A-League show officially began on Wednesday morning, the Japanese superstar making his first public appearance as a member of Melbourne Victory.

At a press conference packed to the brim with Australian football dignitaries, Victory officials and Japanese and Australian media, the man Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro described as the biggest signing in Victory history cut a relaxed figure as he fielded questions in both English and Japanese.

At just 32-year-old, Honda’s signing represents a unique opportunity for Victory, with the former AC Milan and CSKA Moscow player being considerably closer to the peak of his powers than the traditional marquee signing that makes their way to the A-League.

However, the recent news that Honda had accepted a role with the Cambodian national side had cast doubts on the star’s commitment to Victory; questions being raised as to how he could properly juggle the two commitments on top of his already considerable business and charitable efforts outside of football.

Speaking at Honda’s unveiling, Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat was quick to hose down speculation that his new signing was anything but highly committed to the A-League champions.

“Keisuke’s priority is here at Victory,” Muscat said.

“He’s a very humble and giving person and he has an opportunity to give something back which is why he’s taken on that role too. His management team were completely open and honest with Keisuke’s plans.

“His first and foremost his priority is here at Melbourne Victory. In no way will any games or training be compromised.”

When pressed, Honda himself also emphasised that his number one priority was with his new club side.

“I’m a Melbourne Victory player,” Honda explained.

“I have to focus on playing well for the fans and my teammates.

“I look forward to playing as soon as possible. I’m doing other things besides playing but that’s not an issue. I have a team around me so that’s why I can focus on my football.

“We have time until the first game. I want to train hard with the team from tomorrow. I need time to adjust to the team.

“I need to understand more about this club’s style. I want to study more day by day.

“It was four months ago I spoke to the Cambodian National Association. I asked them if I could become the manager of the team at the same time I’m playing, and they said ‘yes’.

“That’s how it happened and lucky Melbourne Victory understood my situation. I feel pressure as I have a lot of responsibilities. So, I have to train well once this press conference is over.”

During the Japanese language section of the conference – in which he was obviously more comfortable answering questions in his native tongue – Honda further elaborated on what sort of time commitment he would be required to make to the Cambodian side, saying he would only travel to the South-East Asian nation once every two to three months and conducting other business via a video link.

Surprisingly, Honda also revealed at the conference that he had considered retiring completely from football following the recent World Cup – in which he scored as his Blue Samurai advanced to the Round of 16 – but was convinced to keep playing after being sold on Victory’s plans.

“When I arrived at the airport, I have never played in an English (speaking) country so far,” Honda said.

“I’m so glad I can try a new challenge in my career. I’m 32-years-old, I was thinking of quitting my career after the World Cup. Luckily this club made me a great offer that’s changed my mind and my career, so I appreciate it.

“I changed my mind after I spoke to Kevin directly.

“I got how he told me personally, he said to me he really wants to succeed as a club for not only the fans, for the A-League, so he’s an ambitious person and so am I. That’s a big thing for me.

“At first, I want to learn Australian English. I take English lessons every day and I want to improve more.

“I’m excited because I came here last time for the Asian Cup.

“I look forward to living here with my family, friends and teammates.

“I’m here to win a trophy.”

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