Like much of the rest of the world, the Rakuten Today team are big fans of football (aka soccer, for our followers in North America). So, when the news broke that German footballing legend Lukas Podolski would be making his way to Rakuten’s very own club, Vissel Kobe, naturally, we were pretty excited.
Part of the reason we’re so excited is that, like German newspaper Handelsblatt, we’re super confident that Lukas – or Poldi, if he doesn’t mind us using his nickname – is going to have a great time in Kobe and Japan. Why are we so confident? We made a list!
1. Vissel Kobe FC and its fans
You just need to look at the thousands of shares and likes that greeted the Japanese announcement of the transfer to gauge how happy the team and its fans are about Poldi’s imminent arrival. When he gets here, he will find a club that is brimming with energy and confidence – despite being one of the youngest teams in the top-flight J1 league, having only been founded in 1995. Coming off its best season in Club history last year, Vissel Kobe has momentum that the World Cup winner will no doubt feed off and accelerate.
2. Kobe City
Vissel Kobe Chairman Mickey Mikitani has a lot to be proud of about his native city and its special connection to football. It’s said that it was the city that hosted the first-ever soccer match in Japan in 1872. It’s also one of Japan’s most cosmopolitan cities, with links to the West dating back to the 1800s. That’s because Kobe has also been one of Japan’s premier ports for trade for centuries – a fact reflected in its football team’s name. “Vissel” is a combination of the words “victory” and “vessel.”
3. Kobe Wagyu Beef
One of Japan’s most famous exports is Kobe beef, and Poldi will find his protein requirements more than adequately met in the town it’s named for. Surely many a memorable meal will be had – and if beef is not his thing then, not to worry, there are many excellent dining options in town.
4. Driving at Mt. Rokko
Kobe is nestled at the foot of the picturesque Mt. Rokko. Rumor has it that the surrounding hills possess some of the best driving roads in Japan, making it a paradise for car lovers (wink, wink). Don’t forget to wave if you see the Batmobile in your rear-view mirror!
5. Captain Tsubasa manga
There is intriguing evidence that Vissel’s newest recruit is a major fan of the iconic 1980s Japanese manga series credited with popularizing football in Japan. The shin guards in that Instagram post show one of the manga’s main characters, ace-striker Kojirou Hyuga. If Poldi found Hyuga inspiring when he was playing in Turkey, just imagine what will happen when he laces up on Japanese soil! Welcome to the land of Captain Tsubasa, Lukas!
You didn’t think we’d miss this one, did you? Not after Poldi’s chart-topping effort last year. “Liebe deine stadt” (Love your city) might not be available in Japanese karaoke boxes right now, but in a few months, around Kobe, we’re sure it will be.
OK, so our ability to make Lukas welcome will be limited to tweets and posts like this… But, as Rakuten’s official corporate blog, we will be cheering on Vissel Kobe and their newest member as they aim for their first championship.
Welcome, Poldi, and good luck!