bundesliga.de takes a look at why he's settled so quickly into Bundesliga life, what he thinks of German sausages and beer and how he almost injured himself at the Westfalenpark. Here are ten things maybe you didn't know about Shinji Kagawa...
BVB plucked Kagawa from Japanese top division side Cerezo Osaka, for whom he scored 55 goals in 125 matches. In the previous season he had finished top scorer in the second tier with 27 strikes, thus playing a major role in his side's subsequent promotion. Kagawa was also part of the Japanese team that competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (he's shown here playing against the USA) and made his full debut for the national squad in May of the same year. Since then he has won 15 caps, scoring one goal.
As a Japanese, adapting to German cuisine has been a real culture shock for Kagawa: "I still need to get used to the food here," he admits. Still, he has managed to find a few nice bites up in the north-west: "German sausages are fantastic. I love them." Like most newcomers to Germany, he doesn't mind the beer too much either: "I treated myself to a beer after the win against Schalke." Kagawa will no doubt soon become a fan of the typical German snack of chips with ketchup and mayo. Indeed, one local newspaper has already remarked that "Kagawa fits BVB just like soy sauce suits sushi".
The Japanese J-League is a high-quality league in terms of technique, so there is less of a focus on athleticism than in the Bundesliga. Of course, this was another change Kagawa quickly had to get used to. "The first training sessions were very hard. I can't say how long it will take for me to get used to the physicality of German football," said the 21-year-old soon after joining the club. "But I think I'll settle in quickly and get into the team," he added. Of course since then, he has done both those things and more.
"I've never seen as many blonde women in my life as I have here in Germany," said the Japanese after his first few weeks in Dortmund. And does he have a soft spot for the fair-haired German ladies? "I've just noticed that there are a lot of blonde women," he smiled. Kagawa also likes to go running in the nearby Westfalenpark, where he can spot the many rabbits darting around in the early evenings. "I almost imjured myself chasing after one," he laughed.
[LOL imagine him with a German WAG and lots of pet rabbits..]
While everything seems to be going to plan on the pitch, Kagawa is having a few problems communicating with his new colleagues off it. "The language is more difficult than I expected, but I'm trying to go about things as if I were a German so I can learn it as quickly as possible." BVB coach Jürgen Klopp agrees: "He has to learn the language as quickly as possible, then he'll be able to communicate properly with his team-mates on and off the field and it will help his integration into the squad. Tor, Abseits, Flanke, Ecke, Hintermann are all words Shinji (and maybe the bundesliga.de users!) should look up first. Kagawa will receive private tutoring over the coming months.
Shinji Kagawa is actually called Kagawa Shinji. In Japanese, the surname goes before the christian name. Though that isn't such a foreign concept to Germany. Indeed, in Bavaria, Josef Huber and Anton Moser have always been known as Huber Sepp and Moser Toni. The stadium announcer at BVB has promised he will be reading Kagawa's name out in the right order when he scores in future. The Borussia fans should get plenty of opportunities to practise, then...
BVB coach Jürgen Klopp has a high opinion of his Japanese acquisition: "Shinji is a very agile and nimble player - an outstanding talent." Kagawa is two-footed, an excellent dribbler, a constant goal threat and deployable in both midfield and attack. What stands out about his game is his ability to create in pressure situations. Kagawa has already racked up four goals and one assist in his first six Bundesliga matches - he could hardly have wished for a better start.
Kagawa will most likely remember the 19 September 2010 for the rest of his life. His two goals in the Ruhr derby at Schalke 04 elevated the Japanese to hero status among the BVB fans in just his fourth game for the club. When he climbed out of the team bus after the 3-1 victory, the awaiting fans were desperate to get a glimpse of their new idol, patting him on the back and chanting his name in honour of the Asian's top-class performance. "It was pure ecstasy, a great experience for all of us. The best thing was that Shinji got a taster of what our derbies are like," said Jürgen Klopp.
When Shinji Kagawa was brought off to a standing ovation 74 minutes into the Ruhr derby, anyone thinking the Japanese international would let the showers of praise go to his head would have been grossly mistaken. The 21-year-old answered journalists' questions for a full hour after the final whistle, sometimes without a translator. Incredibly, some Japanese media outlets explained his withdrawal from the match by saying that he "probably wasn't good enough to play the full 90 minutes". [Oh FFS..]
Kagawa comes from the Japanese city of Kobe, where a serious earthquake devastated lives 15 years ago. Over 6,000 people were killed, with another 44,000 were injured. Young Shinji and his family were lucky - their house was not damaged badly. Still, the BVB star can remember the 17 January 1995 like it was yesterday: "My father had to hold on to the cupboard to he didn't fall over." Since the earthquake, many inhabitants have opted to nail their furniture to the walls... [I remember that earthquake. I think he's around 6 years-old when it happened :/]
Dortmund vs Bayern Munich tomorrow.. Aish.