【Reflecting on the FIFA World Cup™】Interview with Mr. TAMADA Keiji
18 November 2022
In this interview series “Reflecting on the FIFA World Cup™," we talked to players who played in the FIFA World Cup™ as a member of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team). In this second article, we interviewed Mr. TAMADA Keiji, who played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
※This interview was conducted online on 11 November 2022
The match against Brazil reminded me once again that football is something to be enjoyed
――The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is just around the corner, and the squad of the SAMURAI BLUE was announced on 1 November.
TAMADA In my opinion, the squad turned out to be exactly what I expected. I have the impression that they gained a certain amount of confidence from their most recent international friendlies and have decided how they are going to play in the tournament. Some say that the biggest surprise was SOMA Yuki, but I thought he would be selected. As a team, I think that the team's strength lies in its ability to defend and make quick transitions to initiate short counterattacks.
――You were selected for the national team for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ at the age of 26. How did you feel at the time?
TAMADA I had just recovered from an injury and was not in very good condition to start that season. When the squad was announced, I was glued to the TV and was very nervous. I was on the verge of making it to my first World Cup, so I really wanted to be selected. I didn't just play for the World Cup, but I had the opportunity lying in front of me, so it was a relief when I heard my name.
――Please recap the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.
TAMADA Playing in the World Cup has been one of my childhood dreams, but when I actually got selected, I approached it like just another tournament. Looking back on the tournament, I realised the importance of the first game. I wouldn't say that the first game is everything, but I felt that winning and losing their makes a big difference mentally.
――You scored a brilliant goal against Brazil.
TAMADA I had nothing to fear or lose, so I was able to just focus on the game. I was concentrating on how I could contribute to the team. However, we were trounced by Brazil. If you ask me which team was the strongest team I played against in my professional career, I will answer without hesitation, "the Brazil National Team in 2006." They were that strong, and I felt that they truly enjoyed playing football from the bottom of their hearts.
――Did the match against Brazil have an impact on your later career?
TAMADA Absolutely. Since I was a child, I played football because it was something I enjoyed. However, when you become a professional and football becomes your profession, various factors come into play and the “enjoyment” of the game starts to fade away. That game Brazil made me realise once again that it is important to have fun. Playing while having fun has helped me to improve my game and I think this feeling has also benefited the team. Because of that match against Brazil we played in Germany, I was able to enjoy every moment of the game until I retired.
――Can you also share your memories of your second World Cup appearance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™?
TAMADA Before the tournament, we had lost a string of matches, and the team's morale wasn't great. That all changed, though, when we defeated Cameroon in our first match after changing our approach to the game. I've never felt the importance of the first match more strongly than I did at that time. We were able to approach the match against Denmark with the mindset that if we win, we will advance to the knockout stage as opposed to worrying about what we would do if we lost. We were able to play with confidence and I felt we were getting mentally stronger as a team.
――The team lost to Paraguay in the first match of the knockout stage.
TAMADA To be honest, that match against Paraguay was a mediocre game (bitter smile). Neither Paraguay nor Japan were able to score goals, and even watching from the bench, I could tell that it would go scoreless if the game continued like this. We lost in a penalty shoot-out, but I interpreted it as a message that “we are not ready to move on (to the quarterfinals and beyond).”
――Lastly, could you give a message to the players going into the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™?
TAMADA I hope they focus on how they will approach their first match against Germany without thinking too far ahead. They are up against a challenging opponent and we viewers are looking forward to seeing how the match plays out. Please don’t forget to enjoy playing on the biggest stage against the World Cup champions. We hope that your performance will have a lasting impression on those who watch, regardless of the outcome.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
Tournament Dates: Mon. 21 November - Sun. 18 December 2022
1st Match: Wed. 23 November 16:00 [Local Time] vs Germany National Team
2nd Match: Sun. 27 November 13:00 [Local Time] vs Costa Rica National Team
3rd Match: Thu. 1 December 22:00 [Local Time] vs Spain National Team
- Referees 2023/09/23 Introduction of the referees in charge of the International Friendly Match between Nadeshiko Japan and Argentina Women's National Team
- National Teams 2023/09/22 Argentina Women's National Team arrive in Japan ahead of International Friendly Match (9/23＠Fukuoka)
- National Teams 2023/09/21 Argentina Women's National Team squad - International Friendly Match (9/23＠Fukuoka)
- National Teams 2023/09/21 Japan Futsal National Team squad - AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ 2024 Qualifiers (9/28-10/12＠Chiba/Chinese Taipei)
- National Teams 2023/09/21 Japan Futsal National Team short-listed squad & schedule - Training Camp (9/25‐9/27＠JFA YUME Field)