You were always someone I noticed but not really someone I discussed, unless, that is, to tease your coiffure. (A lot of upkeep or absolutely none at all?)
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It's been over a year since you first came to Schalke with a quieter debut season than your colleague Kagawa over who made an impressive 8 goals in his first 16 games for BVB. Granted, it's harder for defensive backs to make such a splash (unless you're Nagatomo). But it hasn't ever felt like you've wanted the glory of Kagawa. You seemed content to play a quieter role that simply included playing your best on the field and spending your off days with your friends. That best, although often unnoticed, contributed to a best-ever showing in the European Champions League and a German cup title.
Ok, I'll be honest. It's not like you were completely unnoticed. You do have the number 2 selling calendar in all of Japan and your teammates all think that you were a Japanese male model before your soccer career thanks to your female fans. But soccer-wise...
Despite not knowing too much about you or your game, I have to say even I have noticed your growth during your time in the Bundesliga. When you first came, your coaches mentioned your need to bulk up a little. I laughed that off since you come from a line of competitors in track and field. However, over Christmas, I have realized that you are gaining in size and probably are much more effective in vying for the ball. But not just physical growth, you've shown enough new interest and dedication in the game and in your career that even the fangirls are starting to take note.
It was a pleasant, lazy few weeks off, as I noted your public appearances. It was fun to watch you take over as line judge during the Christmas charity match, to watch you play miniature foosball and then pat a miniature plastic "Yoshida" on the head after you gained a point, to watch you model the new JNT jerseys and play soccer with some local kids.
The New Year has come and it lay out before you as a clean sheet, a new start. Nothing would be better than to jump back into your team with a renewed determination to work even harder and complete the season...except that your team just let you go. It seems they're in the red from a previous spend-happy coach and have to cut back the team.
It seems your new start is as clean and new as it is a big unknown. Looking back on your break, how did you do it? How did you face all those things with a cheerfulness that stuns in retrospect? What is next up in the life of Uchida?
Good things, let's hope for good things.
Reality may not meet our expectations. Sometimes, it can surpass it.
The character he wrote reads, "Exceed"
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