Former student of Terao-san, Wataru Endo sign with Liverpool FC
FB: Did Wataru Endo stand-out when you coached him? What do you remember while being his coach?
AT: I coached him while he was 10-12 years old. He was a good player, but actually, I couldn’t find a special talent in him. I found he was shy and he was not talking a lot on-and-off the pitch. I recognized him again when he was chosen for the U-16 Japan National Team. It was unbelievable, because I thought he was not such a talented player. This feeling was not only shared by myself but also the other players who played with him in my group.
FB: Did he had a favorite team or player at that time?
AT: Yes. His favorite team was Yokohama F-Marinos, his hometown team.
FB: Can you explain the career he made as pro player in Japan?
AT: He played football at a local junior high school because he couldn’t be selected for Yokohama F-Marinos Youth Team. After he joined Shonan Bellmare’s Youth Team when he was 16 where he got promoted to the top team. Then, he made his J-League debut when he was 17. After, he moved to Urawa Red Diamonds around 23 yo. Then, he went overseas for the 1st time to STTV in Belgium followed by VfB Stuttgart in Germany & finally Liverpool FC.
He told me that he wanted to go overseas and he dreamed of playing in the Premier League in the future. Even as a teenager, it was already his dream.
On the international level, he was captain of U-23 Japan Olympic Team in 2014 and made his debut for the Japanese National Team in EAFF East Asian Cup in 2015. It was held in Wuhan China. So of course, I went to see him and I watched his game… A fantastic memory.
When he was in Urawa Red Diamonds; they played against Shanghai SIPG (Port FC). Before the match, Urawa trained at Century Park which used to be our training field.
FB: Did his family play a role in his success?
AT: Yes, his father was a volunteer coach of the local team. I heard that Endo and his father always went to the park and do 1v1 when they had time. Endo tried to get the ball and keep it from his father. It was very helpful to learn how to play. His little brother was also my student. He was also a good player.
FB: Does he have any weak points?
AT: Yes. He is not very tall, nor fast nor strong at top level… But he can anticipate where to go and what to do. Overall, I think that he’s making decision(s) faster than other players. I think this covers his weak points.
FB: Japan National Team played very well at the last world cup while Endo-san was the captain. What kind of captain is he?
AT: Actually, he was vice-captain at the World Cup. He does not talk too much but players follow his leadership and strong mentality in Japan and even in Germany.
FB: If you were Liverpool coach, would you let him start in the squad?
AT: Yes! The team is very offensive but they lost some of their key defensive midfield this summer. Put him as No. 6 and let the others go. Let him shoot sometimes as he has very good long-range shots.
FB: Do you plan to go and see him play at Liverpool?
AT: Yes, of course and I already told him about it. I regret that I couldn’t watch his game in Germany because of the Covid situation at that time… It will be amazing if I am at Anfield and that he scores!
FB: Did Liverpool pay you any royalties?
AT: Hahaha. Unfortunately no! Because it was long time ago and he just came to my skills training camp. Actually, I really don’t care about it.
FB: Unfortunately you had to leave China during the Covid period with your youth programs coming to an hold… Do you have plans coming back to China?
AT: So far, I can’t say when… But I lived 10 years in China! So yes, I would love coming back to Shanghai. I want to help the kids to improve their football skills. Not only in Japan, but anywhere in the world. My former student Wataru Endo, teached me in return that dreams can become true if you keep trying. I keep telling my players “Let’s try! Why not!”.
FB: Thank you very much Terao-san for your insights of Wataru Endo ‘s amazing journey. On behalf of all Lions players & family; please tell him we wish him all the success he deserves while fulfilling his dream.
I really hope to see you back in Shanghai soon my friend.