International Japanese players in their J.League Days: #1 Keisuke Honda

International Japanese players in their J.League Days: #1 Keisuke Honda

Keisuke Honda spent his early days in Gamba Osaka’s academy, and enrolled in Seiryo High School (Ishikawa prefecture) when he failed to get promoted from Gamba’s junior youth team to the youth team. After significant improvement during his high school days, Honda signed a professional contract with Nagoya Grampus upon graduation.

In 2005, his first professional season, he made his debut as a starter since the opening day, and immediately provided an assist. Following the impressive debut, Honda scored his first J.League goal on Match-day 8, against Tokyo Verdy.

He made 31 appearances in his rookie season, playing not only in his natural position of left winger, but also as fullback. However, his team had a tough season, struggling to stay in the top flight.

In the same year, he was called up to represent Japan at U-20 level, and participated in the FIFA World Youth Championship in Netherlands.

Honda regularly played a more important role as one of the key attacking players in his second season. Blossoming under Dutch manager Sef Vergoossen, he scored six goals in 29 league appearances.

After playing 30 league matches in 2007, Honda left Nagoya at the end of the season to join Dutch side VVV Venlo.

During his three seasons at Nagoya, Honda scored 11 goals in 90 J1 appearances. Although he did not win any titles individually or with his team, he showed great potential through several memorable performances and displayed great shooting skills, leaving a strong impression among Japanese football fans.