Twenty-two-year-old Japanese international Ritsu Doan has the dubious distinction of being Arminia Bielefeld's best scorer through nine rounds of Bundesliga play. This despite the fact that he has only amassed one goal and one assist for a total of two scorer points.
In an interview appearing in the Thursday edition of German footballing magazine Kicker, Doan spoke of his transition from the Dutch Erdevisie to the German Bundesliga.
|Ritsu Doan.||Photo: El Loko Foto, CC BY-SA 4.0|
When friends and family back in Japan learned that Ritsu Doan would spend the 2020/21 campaign on loan at a promoted German side few had heard of, the young Japanese attacker noted that many were "stunned about my change."
"People there know about PSV Eindhoven," Doan admitted in an interview with Germany's pre-eminent footballing publication, "but Bielefeld?"
Doan noted that the domestic audience in his home country quickly got a chance to figure it out. Interest in the Bundesliga remains high in the land of the rising sun, in large part due to the many Japanese internationals playing in Germany's top flight.
"Our match against Bayern [in the fourth round] and my goal were broadcast on television the very next day," Doan noted, "Friends and family over there were very happy."
Regarding the challenges facing both him and his club, the interviewee commented on the difficulties adjusting to the Bundesliga's level-of-play.
"Without exception, all of the opposing players here are much stronger than what I've experienced thus far," he said, "It's a tough job. The Bundesliga demands everything from both Armenia and me. Physicality. Speed. Intensity. I must be prepared in all areas. I'm very glad that this league allows me the chance to develop myself."
Doan noted that larger clubs had been in contact with him after he found success playing for FC Groningen and later PSV Eindhoven in the top flight. He nevertheless preferred a move to a smaller club; one in which he would be relied upon to contribute. He labelled offers to join the EPL's Manchester clubs "not interesting."
"I always wanted to go where I was really needed immediately," he said, "Right from the start, the people in Bielefeld gave me the feeling that they really wanted and needed me. I felt that deep inside."
Doan conceded that the decision to trade a club competing for the Dutch title for one mired in a relegation dogfight was "certainly not an easy one", but expressed confidence that he might still be able to "achieve a good story with Arminia."
Uwe Neuhaus' 17th place team square off against 16th place FSV Mainz 05 this Saturday in a match with enormous ramifications for both relegation-threatened sides. The team must again manage without the support of fans at the empty Bielefelder Alm.