Shinji Kagawa made history on Saturday by becoming the first Asian player to score a hat-trick in the English Premier League.
The Japanese star netted three goals as Manchester United defeated Norwich City 4-0 on Saturday. The win increased the Red Devils’ lead at the top of the Premier League by 15 points and put them closer to a record 20th championship.
It was a delightful haul for Kagawa, whose abilities were clearly showcased by his second and third goals.
Kagawa signed for United, one of the world’s biggest clubs, last summer after two successful seasons in Germany, where he won the Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund twice. Kagawa left J. League team Cerezo Osaka to play for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2010 and has not looked back.
His first season with the Red Devils has been encouraging. It would surely have been more so had he not missed November and December to injury. Prior to the absence, he had already endeared himself to the club’s global army of fans.
Since returning from his injury, Kagawa seemed to need some time to find his groove, but he is well and truly back now.
"Midway through the second half, I didn’t think it would end up 4-0 as I think we were a bit ragged for that period," Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson told MUTV, the club’s official internet television network. "But, when we brought Shinji into central midfield, it made a difference to us and he ended up with a hat-trick.”
Ferguson continued, "It’s brilliant for him. The lad is a good finisher and his second goal was so composed and an intelligent finish while his third was absolutely brilliantly taken. It’s been a great day for him."
Ferguson already expressed his opinion that Kagawa will be even better next season after properly settling in, which is an exciting prospect based on Saturday's evidence.
"He got that injury around October-November and was out quite a while," Ferguson continued. "It knocked him back a bit but he’s gradually coming back and I think you’ll see a really good player next year."
While it was an important game for the club in terms of the Premier League season, it has nothing on the game against Real Madrid on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford stadium.
While Kagawa’s hat-trick has made English Premier League history, a similar feat against Real Madrid would secure his place in the annals of United’s history.
The two titans of world football are halfway through a second round UEFA Champions League clash. The first leg in Spain ended 1-1, and all will be decided on Tuesday night in Old Trafford. The Premier League title is almost in the bag for United. The club’s fans, Ferguson and Kagawa are eager to eliminate the Spanish giants.
Ferguson has already announced Kagawa’s involvement. So it’s safe to say that many fans in Japan and elsewhere in Asia will be going to bed late or getting up very early on Wednesday morning.