A Japanese international who has found a home in the Ruhr District of Germany, Shinji and Dortmund were fated.
At Dortmund he is the favourite prodigal son, even deserting the family won’t diminish the love from the raucous Westfalenstadion faithful, they campaigned for their son to come home and the father of the family Jurgen Klopp happily obliged. Before a usually fierce Ruhr Derby with neighbours from Gelsenkirchen the Blue Samurai further mystified his legend with a very Samurai like prediction, he had the audacity to claim that he would fall one short of a hat-trick and score a brace against Schalke and best of all past Manuel Neuer who was no slouch even back then.
Admittedly,he wasn’t much of a success in England but there were moments, instances that happened and vanished in seconds,you blinked and you missed them. A deftness of touch has been misused but Our Shinji has it, his boot was like a pillow for the ball- it called the ball to his instep and lulled it to sleep, sleep in motion. There were complete performances too, rare but occasionally present. I long admitted Kagawa into my misunderstood genius hall of fame which contains the likes of Berbatov and Jeremy Toulalan, story for another day. When Shinji Kagawa found a team mate on the same wavelength as he was on any particular matchday Manchester United ticked and hummed. There were signs that he had found a willing ally in Juan Mata and the one touch and move football spoke to the inner samurai in Shinji Kagawa and they almost blossomed, but it wouldn’t be right for that to happen to the favourite son of the Ruhr, it wasn’t fated.
A belated ode to the man I willed to succeed at United till I realised that I was being selfish with him, it’s just that he was so lovable, so good you could see the talent struggling to be unleashed but that would be like letting the Hulk release his magnificent powers in a colony of ants. The one game he will always be remembered for is that against Norwich and boy wasn’t he on song, he pressed, passed, scored and every time he was on the ball there was an air of expectancy around Old Trafford, edge of the seat stuff, that afternoon he was the conductor of an Orchestra and the theater of dreams was his opera house, he conducted and the team produced beautiful music though in hindsight only Wayne Rooney danced to his music, his other team mates were all in awe and appreciated that they were witnessing something special that afternoon, a one-off sadly as was most of his career in England. Shinji Kagawa’s second goal was the most breath taking goal I’ve ever seen at Old Trafford not in its beauty or range, they’ve been better, it’s simplicity and execution was mind numbing, the presence of mind to dummy and change body position and just side foot it into an empty net with a subtleness of movement and grace barely noticeable, all the defenders and goalkeeper sprawled in the opposite direction anticipating a less cultured player’s attempt.
When he left I was sad and a bit teary but I was also very happy, the romantic in me was triumphant even, the Star of the Ruhr much like what the Wise men saw was always bound to rest where it was fated, Dortmund is Shinji Kagawa’s Bethlehem, Signal Iduna Park his manger and Jurgen Klopp his footballing father, the Dortmund faithful got their wish and more, their favourite son has come back a man, the star of the Ruhr is home.
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