The Secret Diary of Shunsuke Nakamura, Aged 30 and a Half.

Last updated : 02 January 2009 By Clydebuilt
Shunsuke Nakamura has revealed the extra curricular activites that he takes part in to improve his game and has listed a notebook that he has compiled since junior high as the most important tool in his kitbag.

Naka admitted that he finds solace in the written word when times are tough and he listed being dropped by Gordon Strachan for the visit of Man United to Celtic Park as on such time where he gained strength from his musings.

He insisted: 'I am always honest with myself when I sit down in front of my soccer notebook. The words are an expression of how serious I am, so I cannot write with halfhearted feelings

'Before the game, the manager explained to me the reasons why I was not in the starting line-up. He told me: "This game will develop in a way in which we cannot take advantage of your characteristics. I want to use taller players".

'While I realised he was thinking about my feelings, the fact is I wasn't able to enter the game because there was something lacking in me.

'Facing my notebook, I wrote in a quiet, but dejected manner: "What I lack is not height. How frustrating. What do I have to do?".

This sad tale is not without an element of irony, given that Naka was omitted from the lineup by an equally diminutive person in Gordon Strachan. Naka is not one to get down about such matters and it would appear that he approaches these hurdles in the same manner as he plays football - he just picks himself up and gets on with it.

Shusuke was quick to promote the benefits to his game as well as his mental well being, stating that he uses the book to reflect and learn from performances good, bad or indifferent.

'If a player does not reflect on his performance and learn something new from every game - whether he played or not - he might as well just consider his career over.

'Even if I was able to play in the following league game, I would not be able to enter the next game against a strong opponent such as Manchester United. Beyond that, I would not even understand what my weak points are and I may end up going downhill.

'I have to recognise and understand the fact there are certain areas in which I am lacking and write those points down and proceed to the next stage. If I don't do that, I would be wasting these great experiences that I am going through right now.

'There is significance in applying pressure to myself by writing in my notebook. If I wrote that I needed improvement and then slacked off, that would be really uncool.'

'When I was asked by Perugia about playing in Italy when I was 20, I couldn't make the decision because I was afraid about making the jump to play soccer overseas,' he admitted.

'As I still retain some of that feeling even now, I sometimes feel strange about leading an ordinary life in Glasgow.

'I never considered Scotland in the past and I can't speak English. It may be the case that, as long as you have the will, things will work out in life.'

Addressing the need to constantly prove himself, Nakamura confessed to the common - but rarely expressed - terror that drives so many professionals.

'I always feel pressure,' he said, adding: 'If I don't feel a sense of crisis, I will soon be overtaken by other players and I could end up losing everything; honour, my salary and the No10 shirt in the national team.

'I'm 30, so I'm no longer young for a soccer player. The Japanese love young players and the media play up those players as "the saviour" or "the new star".

'Many young players nowadays have well-developed skills. If I have a bad game or have an injury, it doesn't mean my level is declining but it might cause some people to say: "Maybe we no longer need Shunsuke".

'I think in this way because of an experience I had in junior high school. When I failed to move up from the junior youth level at the Yokohama Marinos to the youth level, I thought maybe I didn't have the right soccer sense and that it would be better if I just quit.

'The soccer I really enjoyed until then suddenly became a chore. After about three months of not kicking around the ball, I again began feeling that I wanted to play soccer, so I joined the team at my senior high school and tried to do my best.

'I never want to go through such an experience again. I still want to be part of the national team and I don't want anyone else to wear the No10.

'I don't want to be overtaken. That' s why I am much more zealous about trying to find a higher objective than when I was younger. I'm afraid of failing like my third year in junior high school. I am afraid of being passed by.'

Sounds like Naka is aware that his time in the limelight is not infinite and is ensuring that he enjoys the rest of his footballing career and his life. Lets hope he enjoys another SPL medal into the bargain, and maybe gets a chance in his final season to play in the Scottish Cup final.

Yours in Celtic