Melbourne Victory star Keisuke Honda has made quite the impact in the Hyundai A-League.
The Japanese import has well and truly lived up to the billing of a marquee player, scoring five goals and pulling the strings in midfield for the free-scoring Victory.
He is also loving life in Melbourne, voted the world’s most liveable city for seven of the last eight years by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
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The city provides Honda with all the sights, scenery and culture he could want and also has a distinct Japanese flavour, something the 32-year-old has enjoyed.
Speaking after watching a series of videos from Japanese fans who wished him good luck in the Hyundai A-League, Honda said: “I’m surprised.
“I didn’t know such a [significant proportion of] Japanese local people are staying here.
“I was surprised when I came here and I finished the first training in Melbourne and there were a lot of Japanese fans.
“Then I realised, yeah, of course, Melbourne is the one of the beautiful cities in the world.”
One of the fans who sent Honda a message took off a Japan shirt to reveal a Sydney FC top and while that supporter thanked the midfielder for his contribution to the Japanese national team, said he should expect some attention in Sydney.
“When you come over, I will pay respect to you as a member of the opponent but I hope you are ready to get booed from us! I’ll see you in the Big Blue,” he said.
Honda had the last laugh in November, scoring the decisive penalty in a 2-1 win at Sydney FC.
And speaking ahead of Victory’s next assignment, a home clash against Wellington Phoenix on Friday, Honda urged Melbourne’s Japanese community to get to the game.
“Many Japanese people are here - I’m excited and I hope they come to watch the game,” he said.
Watch Honda and his teammates take on Wellington Phoenix on Friday December 28 at AAMI Park. Get your ticket here.