1. Shinji Kagawa 香川真司 means “true ruler” in Japanese.
2. He was born in Kobe on March 17th and turns 24-years-old this season. He says that people born in the year of the snake are “very driven, hate failure and don’t mind hardship”.
3. He will be the 11th smallest player in the Premier League, two inches taller than Shaun Wright-Phillips, one inch taller than Jermaine Defoe and the same height as Juan Mata.
4. Kagawa joined Marino Football Club when he was 5 years old. He played for Kobe NK Football Club and FC Miyagi Barcelona before signing for Cerezo Osaka.
5. Kagawa became the first player in Japan to sign a professional contract before graduating high school (except players promoted from youth teams of the J. League clubs) when he joined Cerezo Osaka when he was 17.
6. In the summer of 2009, when he was 20-years-old, he went on trials with Barcelona and Real Madrid.
7. In 127 appearances for Cerezo Osaka he scored 57 and assisted 30 goals.
8. Kagawa is represented by a sports agency, PRO Profil, run by retired German professional footballer Thomas Kroth. He played for Borussia Dortmund alongside their current director of football, Michael Zorc. Kroth approached the club with Kagawa. PRO Profil also represent Manuel Neuer.
9. He signed for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2010 for €350k (£280k) after a release clause in his contract allowed him to leave on the cheap if an offer from Europe came in.
10. In his first pre-season in Germany, he scored one and won a penalty for Dortmund in their 3-1 win over Manchester City. Watch the video.
11. A few weeks in to his first season in Germany, his team mate, Nuri Sahin, said: “the boy plays like an angel.”
In his first Revierderby, the derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, Kagawa scored two goals in a 3-1 win. “I knew how important this game was,” he said after the game. “It’s just wonderful to see the happy faces of my team-mates. Of course I’m proud that I played a role in making this historic win happen.” The Guardian: The attacking midfielder opened the scoring when he cut through the Royal Blues’ defence like a freshly sharpened Hanzo sword, then unleashed a shot that Benedikt Höwedes could only deflect past Manuel Neuer in goal. For his second, he ghosted past the half the Schalke team to artistically steer a fine chip from Jakub Blaszczykowski into the net.
12. In 2011 he won the Asian Cup with Japan. After starting all the group stage games, he scored two goals in their 3-2 win over Qatar in the quarter-finals. He started the semi-finals against South Korea (and our very own Park Ji-Sung) which they won on penalties. Unfortunately, he broke his metatarsal and missed the final where Japan beat Australia after extra-time.
13. Kagawa missed the second half of his first season in Germany because of that injury. Before that point he had played in 28 games, scoring 12 and assisting 2. Despite this, he was still included in the Bundesliga Team of the Season for the contribution he had made to Dortmund’s first title in ten years, after being described as “one of the most electrifying players in the Bundesliga.”
14. In the summer of the end of his first season, he spoke of his desire to play for Manchester United. “The Premiership is one of the leagues I want to challenge,” he said. “If it is Man Utd, I’ll be still more eager to go and try how much I can do there.”
13. “Kagawa is a very mobile player, he is very clever, very creative and is very quick in the box and that is why he is a proven goal-scorer,” Wenger said ahead of Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Dortmund in the Champions League group stages last season.
14. Kagawa scored in Dortmund’s defeat to Arsenal. Watch the video.
15. In his last game for Borussia Dortmund, he scored the first goal and assisted another in a win over Bayern Munich to win the 2012 DFB-Pokal Final. Watch the video. Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Phelan went to watch him play in this game. “For sure Manchester is a great club, but what the future holds I do not know yet,” Kagawa said after the game.
16. In 71 games for Borussia Dortmund, he scored 29 goals and managed 15 assists. He won the league in both seasons.
Buy a “Kagawa Kid” t-shirt designed by Bearded Genius. All profits from the t-shirt this month will go to The Christie. The t-shirts are available for £8.70 ($13.40) although because they have to be shipped from America, the p&p takes the total price to around £17 for deliveries to Europe (more on p&p). The shop ships to: UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, China, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan.
Some articles you might enjoy:
The Guardian, September 2010 – Shinji Kagawa, the jewel in Borussia Dortmund’s crown
FIFA, November 2010 – Kagawa refuses to dream of Bundesliga title
Kissed the Badge – Kagawa