THe’s yours, take Kubo. At the end of the Basque derby, as the rest of the Reale Arena emptied into the streets of Donosti at the start of a long Saturday evening, the Real Sociedad striker made his way from the Aitor Zabaleta end, where his name was still being chanted, to the sidelines, where a group of Japanese fans with an ikurrina were waiting for him. “First honor, then fame,” he said when he arrived and was invited to stand in front of a television camera and share his thoughts as the star of the show. “Well, the more front pages I get the better, right?” He shrugged. “But maybe the cover will be Robin. Or ‘Oyar’.”
They were definitely candidates. The man in the carbon mask, Robin Le Normand, had scored the opening goal in the 3-0 win against Athletic Club before leaving because he couldn’t breathe. After a superb pass from Martín Zubimendi, Mikel Oyarzabal rounded the goalkeeper to curl in the third and stood with his arms outstretched in front of the second largest crowd this stadium had ever seen, the largest since the last derby. And then there was Jon Azanza, who you’ve never heard of but probably seen. The Image of this unique rivalry: an engineer and an Athletic fan in red and white smiling amidst a surging blue sea of fans.
The cover of Diario Vasco went before the eyes of the faithful to Oyarzabal – “Unstoppable”, said the headline – another man doing what Azanza did, minus the smile, got the Basque daily Deia, and then there was the front page that made the case for a bunch of gamblers with a single word: “Ecstasy.” But Kubo also looked out of the morning papers when see is the right word, and how could he not? What he had done was, after all, a gift: a neat, clever finish in which he dropped his shoulder and snapped his eyes to disarm Unai Simón and score the second goal, followed by The.
As he approached the sideline, it seemed for a moment that he had injured himself as he pulled himself up and put his hand on his hamstring, but then he stuck his butt out like Ned Flanders in a tight ski suitAnd twerked. So there he was in the Guipuzkoan edition of El Mundo Deportivo – “a Champions League twerk” – and in front of Marca, although his bottom was squeezed into a small box, next to a taller Jew Bellingham, who led Real Madrid to victory over the had league leaders Girona this afternoon. “Our mood tonight” explained Real Sociedad.
If the inspiration could have come from Kansas City Current Lo’eau LaBonta, Kubo said it was “nothing special” and that all the blame was on Aritz Elustondo, who was wondering if he had “the guts for it” even though this was the second time he celebrated because Elustondo challenged him, which is ample proof of that. If there’s one thing Kubo doesn’t lack, it’s self-confidence. Put him in front of a microphone and you’ll hear it every time: funny and uninhibited, genuine and startlingly honest, this is the man who, when asked about an assist after a game, shot back: “Will they give that to me?” Week? They took the last one from me.” And the man who reacted to his fourth man of the match award in a row by admitting: “I think it’s the first time I’ve earned it.” If you look at him on the You can see it almost every time.
That’s what you do these days anyway. “Take Kubo is a great player; terrible hair but a great player,” Javier Aguirre, the Mallorca coach, once said, and back then he wasn’t half the player he is now. Now he might even be the best in La Liga after Bellingham and is almost certainly the most fun to watch.
Kubo would always be good, or so they said, which might not always have been good for him. He was seen at a football school in Barcelona, Japan, at the age of eight and moved to La Masia when he was ten, but was among the children forced to leave school after Barcelona was found guilty of violating the rules for of having violated the transport of persons under 18 years of age come to the academy from abroad. After playing for FC Tokyo, where he became the youngest player to ever score a goal in the J.League at just 15 years old, he returned to Spain three years later – but this time to Real Madrid. Although he is only 18 years old and is now legally allowed to move, he did not play a competitive game for the first team. Instead, he played for Mallorca, Villarreal, Getafe and Mallorca again over three seasons.
The year in Mallorca ended in relegation. At Villarreal he played just 299 minutes in 13 league games, briefly sparking debate in Madrid about his lack of opportunities under Unai Emery. But it was hard to argue too much, but that didn’t stop them because that’s never the case. Getafe, who he moved to mid-season, was probably never the right place for him. And this summer he was back in Mallorca. When he was signed from Real Sociedad for €6 million in the summer of 2023, Madrid were ready to sell the club – they have the right to match any future offer and receive 50% of any profits from a sale, but that is not the case the case included a unilateral buyback clause – and some wondered whether he might never do so The finally good. If that didn’t work, then what?
That seems like a stupid question to ask a player who was only 21 years old, but he was one of the ones who asked it. “This was my last move for me, my last chance to make the jump that everyone expected of me,” he admitted. It probably helped to understand it that way; His new home definitely made it, and not just because it’s probably the most beautiful city ever. “He is a player who needs continuity and freedom,” Aguirre said.
He was a player that Real Sociedad needed, the club you want. There is calm in Donosti, he says, and good people in the dressing room. He plays soccer on the beach with his teammates and his little brother Eiji, 16, plays in the youth team. Above all, he plays in his own way, which is not only about freedom and technique, but also about relentlessness and organization. If there were any doubts about him, sporting director Roberto Olabe’s belief that he would be a perfect fit has been confirmed.
“This is a club that suits my style: a lot of talented players, a lot of talent, people who play the ball. That is very attractive for a player of my profile,” said Kubo after the same game last season. “It’s a team that pushes to get possession back, plays high up and wants to have a lot of the ball, and I really stand out in that style.” I would like to thank you la Real Because the truth is, I wasn’t performing at the high level that people expect from me. My life is football: I have rarely left Japan, I never go out, I dedicate my life to football and this is one of the happiest moments of my career.”
He scored that night and put in a brilliant performance; He was a revelation all season long, crucial to the team that qualified for the Champions League ten years later. He provided four assists when he thought there were more, and scored nine goals – more than in his three European seasons combined. “It’s what I wanted, but I didn’t expect it The Good; at la Real it seems that every day is one Fiesta” he told Cadena Ser this summer.
It was inevitable that there would be talk of a return to Real Madrid, but he didn’t give in to it. “I am txuri-urdin, blue and white,” Kubo insisted. “I want to shine.”
Oh, he did that. It’s not just the celebration. Maybe it wasn’t even him la RealBarcelona’s best player on Saturday night – Brais Méndez, Le Normand, Mikel Merino and Martín Zubimendi – were all impressed – this wasn’t even his best performance of the season and 3-0 makes it sound more like a destruction than it was. But that says something about how high he set the bar – his first 60 minutes at the Bernabéu were truly astonishing – and how high they all were. This was Kubo’s fifth goal in six games – only Bellingham has more – and their third win in a week, temporarily lifting them back to a Champions League place. Where, by the way, they dominated Inter for 80 minutes.
It was special, they all said, but there is nothing like the derby, as Azanza’s footage showed once again and Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde stressed before the game that it was the best in the world. Imanol Alguacil couldn’t agree more. As Kubo made his way through the tunnel, the coach was waiting for him, as were all his players, beating and hugging them so hard It was a small miracle that he didn’t have any other injuries on his hands. “I might have to take two pills tonight instead of one to sleep,” he said. “We have to get up and prepare for Tuesday, but our fans will enjoy this evening, my children included. Maybe I’ll meet them when they come home in the morning and I make my way to the training ground. You can at least bring me back breakfast.”
And perhaps the morning papers too, with Takefusa Kubo taking the front page.