Japan soccer star Honda gets roaring welcome to Brazil’s Botafogo

SHOWS: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FEBRUARY 8, 2020) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese – loose translation) JAPANESE MIDFIELDER, KEISUKE HONDA, SAYING:

«What I am thinking about now, of playing now and going for victory, to be a real colleague for Botafogo’s players. I want to show my worth to the coach. I want to first focus on this and then on the path to the Olympics. For me, my first project is to play here, to go to training.»

2. MIDFIELDER, KEISUKE HONDA, COMING ONTO FIELD TO APPLAUSE AND CHEERS FROM THOUSANDS OF FANS

3. HONDA KICKING BALLS INTO CROWD

4. FANS CHANTING (Portuguese) «OLE, HONDA»

STORY: Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda hopes he can help Botafogo rediscover some of their past glories after he joined the Brazilian Serie A club last week.

Botafogo have in recent years been in the shadow of Rio rivals Flamengo, Vasco da Gama and Fluminense. Although they captured the Rio State Championship for the 21st time in 2018, they have not claimed the Serie A title since 1995 and have never won the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition.

Honda was greeted by thousands of ecstatic fans at the Rio airport on Friday (February 7) and the 33-year-old said he had never witnessed such a passionate welcome. Thousands more turned out at Botafogo’s home ground to see him at an official presentation on Saturday (February 8).

Honda, who played for clubs in Italy, Russia, Australia, Mexico and Japan in a globe-trotting career, joined from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem. Local media reported that he had signed an 11-month deal.

He has an option to leave after the Tokyo Olympics concludes in August. Honda did not say whether he plans to play in the Games as one of the team’s over-aged players.

Honda is not expected to make his Botafogo debut until the end of February.