On Sunday, while the new boy Takumi Minamino first emerged from the Anfield tunnel wearing all the Liverpool red, thousands were glued to their screens in his native Japan to see their compatriot challenge Everton in the FA Cup.
It was one o’clock in Tokyo, when fans of the official Liverpool fan club gathered in a pub called Epilogue in Shibuya. Many of whom had to get up early for work the next day, but nobody would miss a minute of this Merseyside derby with Minamino taking the field for the first time.
Over 5,800 miles from Anfield Road, fans – many proudly wear Minamino 18’s replica shirts – cheer with excitement and excitement every time the 24-year-old from Osaka touches the ball or appears on their screens.
Many thanks to Itatsu and Japan’s official Liverpool Supporters Club for granting us this unique access from Asia to how they reacted to Minamino’s debut and Liverpool’s 1-0 victory.
How was the atmosphere in Japan when Minamino made its debut?
Among us Liverpool fans, it’s really fantastic as you can see in the videos. Usually never such a large crowd gathered at one in the morning, the first day in the office after the New Year’s break. It’s crazy!
What was it like seeing Takumi in a Liverpool shirt?
Every single appearance on the Liverpool Melwood training ground or in the locker room makes us happy and enthusiastic because we have observed those spaces for a long time as the place for Liverpool’s top players. And now I’m in these places, there’s a young Japanese player! We really want your success. This feeling that we have may be close to the feeling of parents, I think.
How do you think the Minamino performed against Everton?
I think it was cool for his debut, and I hope local fans feel the same.
[Harvey] Elliott e [Curtis] Jones may have left much stronger impressions in that game, but Minamino played as usual. He doesn’t care about the pressure, both mental and physical. This is its strength. Although it was one of the most traditional derby games in English football history.
He rushed to the ball and, when he was in possession, he checked and created a good rhythm in particular with his passing. It takes time to adapt to Jurgen Klopp’s team, so please be patient. I have faith in its success.