The Josh Kennedy Interview & Giveaway

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Josh Kennedy is a 1.94m Australian professional soccer player. After spending 9 years playing in the German Bundesliga he joined Nagoya Grampus in 2009. Since arriving he’s scored over 50 goals for the J-league side, finishing the league’s top scorer for the past two seasons The 29 year-old Socceroo recently shared his experiences with the Nagoya Calendar at the team’s Toyota Training Ground in Spring 2012.

Photo (right) – courtesy of Nagoya Grampus

The Road to Japan日本への道

Growing up in Australia, how did you get into playing soccer?
I think I was too young to play the other sports. My mum said I had too much energy and I had to do something. So I started soccer when I was 5 and I was allowed to play with the under 8’s where as a lot of other sports start a bit later.

How did you end up playing in Germany?
I went there when I was 17 and lived there for nine years. The chance to go just came up, my manager arranged a trial and it just went from there. Growing up in Australia I watched the English leagues, so I didn’t know much about Germany before I went and it seemed a long way away. After a few years there I became fluent in German and my English got pretty bad.

Then you came to Japan?
After 9 years my time was up in Germany and it was time for a change. An opportunity came up to come to Nagoya, I didn’t hesitate too much and decided that a change in football and scenery would be nice.

In action at the Toyota Training Ground

About Soccer in Japan 日本のサッカーについて

So you’re fluent in German, so how’s your Japanese coming along?
Not quite as good. I’m still lacking the effort to get into it so I think I need to get onto that one.

What communication difficulties have you experienced in Japan?
In football terms non really. The coach speaks English, the training sessions are in English and everything gets translated into Japanese for him; its probably easier for me than the Japanese guys. For most of the guys football is a universal language on the pitch; its all pass, its all shoot, its all the same. In that sense its all easy, and in life through the experience in Germany it hasn’t been too difficult. We sort of knew that things would be a bit odd at the start like the labels and shopping, but you get used to them.

Has anything surprised you?
No, nothing has happened to make me want to call home and talk about. I came here with open eyes and an open attitude to accepting the way things are and roll with everything.

How does the “soccer culture” differ between Japan and Germany?
In Japan as a team everybody gets along, whereas in a lot of teams I was with in Germany there were little groups and always something was going on behind the scenes – maybe that’s the case here and I just don’t understand it! But here we all seem to get along and have a good joke with each other. The harmony of the team and the way we get along is probably the best I have seen in all the teams that I’ve been in.

How do the fans in Japan compare to Germany?
I think the fans here are much more positive win, lose, or draw. Whereas in Germany they’re very performance based. Here they’re very warm and friendly. Up until now I’ve had a good experience so far, not too much negativity and so far they’ve been very warm and welcoming.
How has Japan improved you as a player?
I get involved more with the midfield instead of waiting for things to happen and I have also improved a great deal technically since coming here.

Up until now what’s has been your career highlight?
Definitely the 2010 championship with Grampus and finishing the league’s top scorer. It was a busy full year with the World Cup, but it was a great personal achievement as top scorer and one with the team as a whole; it just all came together.

What advice would you give to children in Japan wanting to get into sports?
It’s great to get involved in sports, not just for the physical health benefits but its good to have fun and to participate with your mates. Later on down the track when you’re older if you’re still having fun it might eventuate into something professional. First and foremost its important to have fun and participate and enjoy it.


Photo courtesy of Nagoya Grampus

About Nagoya 名古屋について

Have you seen much of Nagoya?
I’m not much of a sightseeing person and I don’t think my wife is either. We’ve seem the usual places like the castle, but we try to do activities for the kids. We’ve been to Nagashima, Waikiki Beach (Sun Beach Nikkogawa), and we’ve got year passes for the zoo and the aquarium.

Have your eating habits changed since you’ve come to Japan?
My wife and I and the kids try to eat as we normally would back home or in Germany. Now instead of taking sandwiches to school my kids take rice balls and all the other little things the other kids take. We definitely eat a lot more rice than we normally would, but now we don’t think much into it.

What’s your favourite local food?
We went to one place where eel was their specialty, but I didn’t really fancy it. If I can go to a nice teppanyaki or tempura restaurant then I’m happy.

And finally do you have a nickname at Grampus?

They call me Jesus. I had long hair, but had it cut over 18 months ago. I still have a chant that has something to do with Jesus but the supporters haven’t bothered to change it.


The Josh Kennedy Chant

♫ He is the Jesus.  Ohhh-oh oh-oh.

Go Joshua Kennedy. Ohhh-oh oh-oh. ♫

Listen to the Full Interview


To learn more about the Nagoya International Center,
please watch our video.

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