After speculation from the Japanese media and tweeters, Yasuhito Endo (33, Midfielder) has become the new club captain, replacing Tomokazu Myojin who has been captain since taking over from Satoshi Yamaguchi.
Every Gamba Osaka fan would agree that the star player in the team is Yasuhito Endo. Of course, he is a star outside of the team, being the all-time record holder of appearances with Japan (124 so far) and he is known throughout Japan and marginally overseas. Having played for Gamba since joining from Kyoto Purple Sanga in 2001, Endo has achieved 475 appearances in all competitions scoring 99 goals in that time. It is difficult to write what has been said thousands of times before about this man, but his experience, calmness, skill and dedication to the Gamba cause is a massive plus. He ought to be able to pull the team through a difficult J2 season back to J1 within a season. Nobody deserves to be captain more than this man, and we are truly grateful that he is with us to fight and win.
What also needs a mention is the matter of vice-captaincy. The team has experience throughout with Futagawa, Konno, Myojin etc., but Konno is certainly not a leader, as shown by the defensive record and his need of a leader to be at his best, whilst it seems that Hasegawa is trying to use Myojin less this season, thus giving him a rest whilst giving the youngsters like Abe, Okazaki and Uchida a great opportunity to get experience alongside the new captain.
Congratulations are in order for Akira Kaji and Shu Kurata, who have both been named as vice-captains! I think the choice of Kaji is a good call as he has experience and a high skill level which can certainly and hopefully tidy that back-line up a bit more.
The interesting choice is why have two vice-captains? Therefore, we must question why Kurata? Why not Futagawa, Fujigaya (joking!) or even Myojin? It is clear to see why, because Endo will have to miss games if he is to be part of Japan’s Confederations Cup run in Brazil and EAFF East Asia Cup in South Korea this summer. It is not a given that Kaji will be fit for all these games or whether Hasegawa will want to rest him often. It is clear to see that Hasegawa wants to use the younger players more. The squad needs rebuilding, and he is going the right way about it. Kurata was a consistent figure on the left-side of the midfield last season and scored some amazing goals (Shimizu away, Iwata away) but was more importantly captain of the youth team during his youth days. The new number six also turned down the opportunity to re-join the Pigs and is committed to the cause. He will have to cope with the responsibility when he takes the armband but he is experienced enough to do it. Although it may seem like a strange choice, I take my metaphorical hat off to Hasegawa for this smart move.
My best wishes to these three players on achieving the most prestigious roles at the best club. Do your best, fight and win J2. Take us home!