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Soccer: Honda 'meets destiny' with AC Milan move

Japanese midfielder's arrival big boost to struggling giants

08 January, 18:15
Soccer: Honda 'meets destiny' with AC Milan move (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Milan, January 8 - Japan playmaker Keisuke Honda said Wednesday that he had dreamed of coming to Italy since he was a child and that his heart led him to AC Milan.

The gifted 27-year-old was presented as a Milan player Wednesday after joining the struggling Serie A giants as a free agent following the expiry of his contract with Russian side CSKA Moscow last month.

The player, who has scored 20 goals in 52 appearances for Japan, has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract.

His arrival should be a big boost for Milan, who are 11th in Serie A, 27 points behind leaders Juventus. They are also the only Italian side to have reached the knockout stage of this season's Champions League.

"I knew that one day my dream would come true. When I was 12 I wrote in an essay in which I said that one day I'd like to play in Serie A with the number 10 shirt," Honda told a press conference. "It was easy to choose Milan (despite offers from other clubs). I just listened to my heart. I asked myself which club I wanted to play for," added that midfielder, who has his hair dyed bright blond.

"And my heart answered Milan. My career was destined to take me here and my heart was set on Milan". Honda usually plays as an attacking midfielder, but he can be used as a second striker or a deep-set playmaker. He is excellent at dribbling past opponents and has a good eye for goal, being especially dangerous from free kicks.

Honda was player of the tournament at the 2011 Asian Cup, which he helped Japan to win, and lifted the Russian Premier League with CSKA last season. He had moved to CSKA in January 2010 from Dutch side VVV-Venlo.

He was also part of the Japan team that progressed from the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The midfielder said he was not worried about the current plight of seven-time European champions Milan. "I don't think the team are in such bad shape. I watched the match the other day. We are good," he said referring to Milan's 3-0 home win over Atalanta on Monday, their fifth victory from 18 league games this season. "We can probably improve even more". The player said he was not sure if he would make his Milan debut at Sassuolo on Sunday.

"I don't' know because I haven't played for a while and I have to prepare well," he said. "When the moment is right I will be there for it".

Honda said he was braced for a high-pressure environment in Italy after talking with his Japan team mate Yuto Nagatomo, who plays for Milan's city rivals Inter.

"Yuto spoke to me about the Italian fans and he told me that if you don't play well, they tell you to go to hell," Honda said.

"I'll remember that. My aim will be to play very well".