Kumagai, AFC Women’s Player of the Year. Germany is famous for winning the championship penalty in 2011. Japan was captain to win the first Olympic 2020 gold. Saki Kumagai is a player who knows how to collect trophies.
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At the age of 20, he helped Germany win the first FIFA Women’s World Cup championship in 2011 before Japan finished second in Canada 2015, four years later. At the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
At the club level, he helped Urawa Reds become the Nadeshiko League champion before claiming six first division championships with Olympians Lyonnais in 2009 and the last four UEFA Women’s Champions League championships. Most recently, he was crowned as the 2019 AFC Actress of the Year.
Perhaps the only title that remains difficult for him is the Olympic 2020 gold medal. He noticed that Japan was limited only by the USA when it reached the final in London 2012. And they did not even qualify for Rio 2016, a disappointment that further sharpened its appetite for rescue. Recently, we have grown up to the 29-year-old boy whose sole purpose is to seize gold.
Are you satisfied with what you have achieved?
Saki Kumagai: I think my football career so far was really blessed. Of course, I wouldn’t have come up here without so many people’s great support. To be honest, I am very happy with what I have accomplished. I am proud of all these results I have achieved with my great teammates.
What do you remember about that tournament and what does it mean for you?
I was only 20 years old when playing at the 2011 Women’s World Cup. All that I could remember now is that we were fighting desperately throughout. I don’t think of it as my career’s peak but winning the Women’s World Cup and being able to experience that victory is a truly wonderful and happy memory.
What made you so successful?
In fact, I am neither good at nor fond of penalty kicks! However, I had been given plenty of opportunities for taking care of spot-kicks after the 2011 Women’s World Cup final. I have gained loads of experience and with time I have become pretty capable. I now enjoy handling the task of dueling with goalkeepers. I just concentrate on the ball and I think this is probably the reason why I so often win the battle and find the back of the net.
how do you view your role?
The idea is that we have free and smooth communication within the team. My hope is that our players can say anything they need to. My part of the job is creating the atmosphere and fueling the chemistry for such a team.
The achievements by Nadeshiko have made a big impact on the women’s game in the Olympic Games in Japan. As a player, I want to do whatever I can to help the team and make women’s football progress even further.