Q&AWataru Endo's first interview: 'It's a dream come true for me to sign for Liverpool'
Wataru Endo explained how he has fulfilled a long-held ambition of his by signing for Liverpool.
The Reds agreed a deal to sign the 30-year-old midfielder from Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart on Friday, subject to international clearance and work permit application.
Endo grew up watching the club back in his homeland of Japan, and is now beyond excited to begin his Anfield journey after signing a long-term contract.
Shortly after putting pen to paper, Liverpoolfc.com caught up with the new No.3 at the AXA Training Centre for his first interview as a Liverpool player...
Wataru, welcome to Liverpool FC. How do you feel at this moment?
Thank you. I'm very happy right now and I'm so excited to join a big club in Liverpool.
Has it sunk in yet that you're officially a Liverpool player now?
It feels amazing and this is my dream. It's always [been] a dream to play [in the] Premier League and with one of the biggest clubs in the world. It's a dream come true for me.
Can you just tell us about how the last few days have been for you?
Yeah, it was busy! But it was very quick because I needed to decide this move for almost 24 hours, and I decided. I just said goodbye to my family and I fly to here, I did the medical check and right now I'm doing this interview.
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You've said it's your dream to be here, so did you watch Liverpool a lot when you were growing up in Japan?
Yeah, yeah. When I was a kid, I often watched Premier League games with my father. I liked [Steven] Gerrard and I often watched how he played. I often watched Liverpool games.
What has been the reaction like from your family and friends back in Japan?
I didn't send messages yet to my parents but they must be so happy.
How motivated are you to make the most of this opportunity at Liverpool?
Actually I was a bit surprised when I got the offer but also I feel like, 'Do I still have chance to move to a big club?' It's a very exciting moment for me and, like I said, it's a dream come true.
Have you imagined what it'll be like to play at Anfield as a Liverpool player for the first time? Have you ever visited before?
No, so it's going to be the first time for me that I play at Anfield. I can't wait to play at Anfield in front of Liverpool fans.
Can you just tell us about what type of player you are?
I play as a No.6 and I'm like a bit more [of a] defensive player. I think I can help this club defensively and I will have good organisation in the middle. I think that's my job.
We know you like to tackle on the pitch – do you think you'll fit in well with the manager's plans?
Yeah, I try to have good communication with the defenders and I always try to scan where opponents stand and try to get them. I think that's my job.
You've met Jürgen Klopp already. How big a factor was he in making this move?
For me, I'm very happy to work with him because when I became a football player I often watched Dortmund games when he was there and Shinji [Kagawa] was also there. I think my ex-teammate must be happy. And, of course, I'm very happy to work with him.
You've been captain for club and country. Are you looking to bring that leadership and experience to Liverpool and help the team here?
Yes, I hope so. I hope so. I don't talk a lot, but I always show what I have to do on the pitch and what I should do for the team. That's what I am always thinking about. I do that for the national team and with my ex-teammates at Stuttgart as well, so I will try to do that at Liverpool too.
How much are you looking forward to playing with the world-class players we have here?
I met only a few players here yet, but I am really looking forward to seeing them and, of course, I am looking forward to playing with the big players here.
You already know one player here, Nathaniel Phillips, from your time together at Stuttgart...
Yes! We played together and we had German lessons together! I have a pretty good connection with him and, of course, I sent him a message before I arrived here. I think he can help me to join this club quickly.
You're just the second Japanese player to play for Liverpool's men's team after Takumi Minamino, your teammate with Japan. Has he told you anything about Liverpool?
Yes, yes. He texted me and said congratulations. I asked him to tell me about Liverpool, so we had that conversation.
You've taken the No.3 shirt here at Liverpool. You also wore it at Stuttgart. Is there any particular meaning for you with that number?
Number three is my number because I played as No.3 in Stuttgart and when I was playing in Japan, also. I love this number! I cannot wait to play with this number here.
What are you hoping to achieve here while you're at Liverpool?
I want to achieve as Premier League champions. We also play Europa League this season, so I think to win titles is our job and I want to achieve that.
Finally, what would be your message to the fans reading this interview?
I am very excited to join this club and I am looking forward to seeing you at Anfield!