It’s not a bad record at all. Shinji Kagawa has played three seasons in the big leagues of Europe and won three league championships. Things are going well for him on a personal level on the field, too.
The Japanese football star headed to Germany where he played for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2010 and helped the club win successive Bundesliga trophies. Last June, the playmaker headed to an even bigger stage – the Old Trafford home of global giants Manchester United.
On Monday evening UK time, Tuesday morning in Japan, Kagawa lifted the English Premier League trophy in front of 75,000 delighted home fans.
It has been a highly satisfying first season for the former Cerezo Osaka star. He started well in England and finished well. Only a two-month absence at the end of 2012 due to a knee injury clouded the campaign.
Better yet, in recent games Kagawa has been playing in his favored role just behind the striker, a place that has often been reserved for England star Wayne Rooney. Rooney has been forced to play deep in midfield as a result.
“I think Shinji is doing very well for us now,” Manchester United head coach Sir Alex Ferguson said last week. “He has fantastic composure on the ball and always seems to pick the more sensible pass. He was terrific for the first goal [at West Ham], showing the composure to take the player on in a tight area and roll the ball in to Antonio Valencia.”
Ferguson continued, “As far as taking Wayne off on Wednesday, it was simple. He wasn’t playing as well as Shinji and we wanted to get that goal. There have been so many games where Wayne Rooney has been better than most players, but on the night, Shinji was playing so well.”
When United clinched the title with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa, Kagawa offered energy, vision and class to Manchester United’s offense on the attack.
Not only has Kagawa won the big prize in his first season, he has done enough to suggest that next season he will play an even bigger role.
The team’s prize comes just after Kagawa took the individual accolade of becoming the first Asian player to score a hat-trick in the English Premier League.
But Kagawa is not the first Asian to collect a Premier League trophy. Park Ji-sung won four during his seven seasons with the same club, leaving last summer shortly after the arrival of the Japanese star.
It remains to be seen if Kagawa can match Park’s tally, but he’s off to a good start.