Japanese Internet users commend their national soccer star for words of encouragement during a bitter moment.

The story of soccer star, manager, and rock-scissors-paper afficionado Keisuke Honda is an illustrious and successful one. Starting at a club in his native Osaka, he’s been signed by a number of high profile teams in the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Mexico and Australia, and serves as an inspirational star for Japanese soccer fanatics of all ages.

The 33-year old midfielder has branched out in recent years, taking the Cambodian soccer team under his wing as their manager. Though the team has suffered its share of losses in recent years, Honda refuses to allow the team to crumble into despair, as this rousing speech he made completely in English proves.

“I want all instructors to watch this clip.”

In the video we see Honda facing his team, who admittedly are unsmiling, serious, and looking a little downcast. The reason for the gloomy mood is simple: in this September 10 match against Bahrain, Cambodia lost by a single goal to their opponents. Honda uses the team’s disappointment as a pretext to remind them exactly where they are standing, and that although they have lost today they should have pride in themselves:

“I respect you, and they respect you. That’s why… we have to show them, ‘thank you for coming here’. You are the dream of them. So don’t be like ‘aww, we lost.’ No, no. no. ‘Thank you, thank you.’ Be proud. Proud, okay? This is the team. Okay, let’s go.”

In the above tweet, the Twitter user @Footbalife0618 subtitled Japanese captions so that Honda’s fans back home could understand his inspiring speech, and they were as delighted to hear his words as the men on his team. (Notably, many players on his team also needed to have it translated, hence the presence of an interpreter.)

Here’s how Japanese netizens reacted:

“Honda is so cool. I wanna see him play for Japan again.”
“I really liked the part where he explained that to the fans, the players are heroes. I feel that advice has resonance to anyone who stands out in any field.”
“In a contact sport, it’s really vital to look out for the players’ mental well being too.”
“It’s really vital that in soccer we teach things like this as well as athletic skills.”

One commenter did wonder whether it might be jarring for fans to see the losing team smiling and cheering, but the sentiment — and Honda’s passion for the team he manages — was appreciated overall. The only real grouse anyone seemed to have about the video was the fact that Honda has assumed more of a mentor role as of late, rather than playing the field himself.

“Has he just totally given up on playing soccer?”

Honda is prepped to accompany the Cambodian team to their next game in Iran, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to see him on the pitch again. At least we can tide ourselves over with some of his personal brand of perfume.

Source: Twitter/@kazu_doi_ via My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@kazu_doi_
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