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Japan legend Hasebe targets coaching career in Europe

TOKYO (AFP) – Makoto Hasebe said yesterday he wants to become the first Japanese to coach in one of Europe’s top leagues after the former national skipper retired from playing aged 40.

Hasebe ended his playing career after 17 seasons in Germany’s Bundesliga when he came on as a substitute for Eintracht Frankfurt in their final match of the campaign last weekend.

It was his 384th game in the German top flight, taking him level with Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and trailing only Peru’s Claudio Pizarro for Bundesliga appearances among foreign players.

Hasebe, a defender who captained Japan at three World Cups and won 114 caps, will stay with Frankfurt to work as a coach at youth level.

He told reporters in Tokyo that he plans to gain his coaching qualifications before moving into a more senior role at the club.

“My main job will be to coach the under-21 second team while observing all different categories,” he said. “The final goal that I am aiming for is to coach (Frankfurt’s) first team.”

No Japanese coach has ever been in charge of a team in one of Europe’s top leagues.

Hasebe was the oldest player in the Bundesliga this season and is more than four years older than Werder Bremen coach Ole Werner.

He said he didn’t “pay much attention to age” and revealed that Bundesliga coaches had invited him to their clubs to observe their methods.

“I’m starting out on my coaching career and first I want to build up experience,” said Hasebe, who namechecked Bayer Leverkusen’s Xabi Alonso as a coach he admired.

Hasebe won Japan’s J League and the Asian Champions League with Urawa Reds before moving to Wolfsburg in 2008 and winning the Bundesliga in his first season in Germany.

After a brief spell at Nurnberg, he joined Frankfurt in 2014 and won both the German Cup and the Europa League. Hasebe won the 2011 Asian Cup with Japan.

Makoto Hasebe. PHOTO: AFP
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