Japan’s biggest soccer star is staying. Announced earlier this week at a press conference in Tokyo, legendary Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta has agreed to a two-year contract extension with Vissel Kobe.
Iniesta’s run captaining Vissel comes after dazzling 22-year career with FC Barcelona, which saw him help the Spanish team accumulate 32 titles and 34 trophies, including his own UEFA Best Player in Europe Award and the Golden Foot.
“Three years ago, here in Tokyo, we announced an exciting project. As I said at that time, undertaking this challenge will be a major step for both me and my family. President Mikitani trusted me when launching this project, and I’m thankful that, three years later, he still has this same trust in me.”
Asked about his main reason for extending with Vissel, Iniesta was clear. “The most important thing for me was to feel The most important thing for me was to feel trust. I feel I was being appreciated and that was the most important thing for me when deciding to extend my contract. I still feel motivated to give my best to Vissel and to this project, so I am excited for the future.”
“This announcement is about more than just an ordinary two-year extension,” explained Mikitani in his opening statement. “I believe this is a commitment from Andres Iniesta that he will continue to offer his leadership and keep participating in this project to make Vissel Kobe the number one club in Asia.”
“The man is clearly a Maestro, with world-class football technique and a mind for the game which were even more impressive than I had imagined. But I think what really impressed me is his altruistic way of thinking. He cares about the team, about the people around him, and about society.”
Of course, Iniesta’s impact also extends far outside the soccer pitch. “I believe his play, his philosophy, and his approach will make an impact not only on young people who play football, but on Japanese society as a whole,” said Mikitani.