London: Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa was told he had been selected for Japan’s World Cup squad by a flight attendant, after being caught in mid-air when Alberto Zaccheroni named his 23-man line-up for Brazil.
“It wasn’t announced on the plane. A regular cabin attendant gave me the message,” Kagawa was quoted as saying by Kyodo after landing in Tokyo on Monday.
“Quite simply, I am relieved. But being a member of the team is not my goal. My aim is to deliver results,” he said.
Despite his concerns, the 25-year-old is a certain starter for Japan’s campaign in Brazil even though he has been deemed surplus to requirements during the English Premier League season under former United boss David Moyes, who was sacked last month.
It marked an abrupt change in fortunes for the talented playmaker, who had two impressive years with German side Borussia Dortmund before being signed by former United boss Alex Ferguson in 2012.
“I got a lot of experience in Europe over these four years, especially this year. I had won the league the previous three years,” he said. “This year the manager changed and it has been a really hard year in many ways. But I think it has been really good for me to experience both good times and bad times at the top level in Europe.
“There have been times when I thought my spirit would break and I just thought I have to believe in myself. In the end it was a really disappointing season, what with not scoring a single goal. But I never slacked in training or during matches.”
Kagawa was one of a number of young players who travelled with the Japan squad at the last World Cup in South Africa for experience, after missing out on the 23-man party. Frustrated at being overlooked by former Japan coach Takeshi Okada, Kagawa completed the shock move from then second division side Cerezo Osaka to Dortmund, where he helped sparked their Bundesliga revival.