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Okubo's power of positive thinking

8 Jan 2009(Thu)

January 6, 2009: A new year, and a new start for Yoshito Okubo.
Having failed to make the grade in Spain with Real Mallorca, the 26-year-old striker has a second chance to be a hit in Europe with VfL Wolfsburg.

According to the official website of the German club, Okubo has signed a two and a half-year contract, taking him through to June 30, 2011.

That's a good deal for Okubo, as it gives Wolfsburg's new No. 8 time to find his feet and establish himself in the first-team squad.

The fact that Makoto Hasebe is already there, adjusting to life in Germany and in the Bundesliga, will be a huge benefit for Okubo and help him settle in.

Hasebe will also be able to fill him in on the coaching style of Felix Magath, the former Hamburg and West Germany midfielder who is well known for his tough training regimen. Okubo is going to have to knuckle down in training and really fight for his place in the team, and that can only be good for his career and take him to the next level.

Okubo, of course, could have taken the easy way out and stayed with Vissel Kobe -- the captain, the star, easy money, and always in the spotlight to keep his place in the national squad.

It was much easier to stay in Japan than to go to Germany, so Okubo deserves credit for taking up the challenge. As a striker, he must have confidence and self-belief in his DNA, so Okubo's attitude will be positive, despite his Mallorca experience.

He does have something to lose, however, by going to Germany, and that is his place in the national squad in the year before the next World Cup. If he can't win a place in the Wolfsburg starting line-up, the goals dry up and his match fitness and confidence decline, Takeshi Okada will be forced to consider other options.

But Okubo can't afford such negative thoughts as he embarks on the next stage of his career.

It is a wonderful chance for him to play in one of Europe's big four leagues, and also for him and his family to live in a beautiful country with a rich football tradition.

On the playing side he is going to find it very physical, and I hope he uses his wiry frame to take on defenders and shoot for goal, rather than falling over too quickly and looking for free kicks -- an unsavoury and unnecessary aspect of Okubo's game.


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