Unknown to many Australian football fans prior to his move to Brisbane Roar, Issey Nakajima-Farran’s flair and quick feet is sure to play a huge role as the club looks to maintain their impressive form and defend their Hyundai A-League title.
Unknown to many Australian football fans prior to his move to Brisbane Roar, Issey Nakajima-Farran-s flair and quick feet is sure to play a huge role as the club looks to maintain their impressive form and defend their Hyundai A-League title.
Born in Canada to a Japanese mother and British father, the 27-year-old plied his trade in Japan, England, Singapore and Denmark before choosing Australia as his next destination – a true football journeyman.
Brisbaneroar.com.au caught up with Nakajima-Farran after training on Tuesday morning to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.
Who was your football idol when you were a kid?
When I was a kid, my favourite player was Ruy Ramos. He was Japanese-Brazilian and he played for the Japanese national team. He was what they call a ‘fantasista-, which is a Japanese-English word for ‘fantasy player-. That basically means he used to do whatever he wanted, like a Ronaldhino, he was that good he could just do whatever he wanted. Watching him when I was eight or nine years old, I just thought that was so beautiful. He played for Tokyo Verdy and was involved in the youth set-up as well. I used to watch him when I was a little kid, then he was my youth coach. For me, he was the greatest idol to learn from.
What made you decide to sign for Brisbane Roar and not somewhere else in the world?
My closest friends told me about the club and what really attracted me was the style of play, being forced to play on the ground. My clubs back in Denmark, mainly FC Nordsjælland when we played in the UEFA Cup, we were a team where the goalkeeper cannot kick the ball and no defender can clear the ball. That was exactly how we played, but we were playing a 4-4-2 or more like a 4-5-1. The system was similar, but here is more 4-3-3. It was exactly what I was playing in Denmark but a different system and the same style of play.
How do you feel you-re settling into the club and the way the coach wants you to play football?
When you play the way we do, it-s very systematic, like the movements off the ball. When you get the ball, I think every footballer at this level can follow his instincts to do what he-s best at and that-s why you-re playing football at this level. Playing for the team here, I felt in my first game I had a bit more of a free role and just staying on the side but the past two games I think I became more systematic in my movements which really caused a lot of confusion for me to link up with the other players. It affected my movement off the ball and I-m not getting the ball where I would like to be getting it. So, I feel there was a little too much information taken in at once and the second and third game for me, it was a bit of struggle for me to be clicking with the other players. All you can do is train more so I can understand the other players and the other players and the coaches can understand me and the type of player that I am. The coaches have all been very patient with me, saying that it-ll be mid-season when we really solidify as a team so I-m trying not to put too much pressure on myself or on the team.
How would you rate the Hyundai A-League and your Brisbane Roar teammates compared to your experiences overseas?
From what I-ve seen from the A-League, we are the only team that plays the way do. The Danish league is mostly my experience and the J-League, although I only grew up watching it and was only a youth player. So most of my experience has been playing in Europe and watching European football. You see it when you visit the neighbouring European countries to play football and it really surprises me that we-re the only team that plays this way in the A-League. It makes us look good but it really surprised me that no other team focuses on what we do – a lot of high pressure, a lot of possession work and playing the ball on the ground, that beautiful football. In Denmark, there were four or five teams that were playing like this which makes it difficult because the other team is using the same concept. It is very difficult to play the way we are playing but no one has really put in a good effort to stop us. You can see we play in a systematic way and it can be easy to stop. From my experience, we were stopped in many ways in Denmark and we were tested to follow our instincts when they stopped our systems. When the systems aren-t stopped, the instincts don-t flow in. I don-t think we-ve been tested by our instincts yet because our systems still work.
What personal targets have you set yourself for this season?
My personal target is to gel into the team as quick as possible and get on the scoresheet. I-m looking for double digits, I want to make either 10 or 15 goals this season just in the A-League. Three games and I-m yet to score or set anyone up yet. People only remember the goals and that-s the truth of football so if you don-t get yourself on the scoresheet, you-re not recorded.
Do you think playing at Brisbane Roar will help you earn more national caps for Canada?
I-ve got 26 or 27 caps for Canada, it-s been a great honour for me but I think being all the way out here is not really going to help my situation. It takes 28 hours to fly in and get involved in training and games so I don-t think that will help my case. But this playing style, and making a name for myself over here as a Canadian I think will help. Maybe it won-t help me directly now but in the long run. I-ve had a good time with the Canadian team and I-ve got a lot of Canadian fans following me and what I-m doing.
Although you-ve played for Canada, do you also see yourself as Japanese and/or British given your background?
Being British was just a ticket to get to Europe and make my life easier. That was always a given for me but Japanese was a hard one to let go. The thing is that I actually played against Japan playing for Singapore. I played for Singapore when I was 21, it was an invitational game. When the country is so small, it only takes two years for the country to issue you a passport. It was an under 23s game against Japan, I was playing in Singapore at the time and they asked me and another Japanese guy to play against Japan. I scored two goals and we won 3-2 and I got man of the match. I thought that maybe would give me the chance to represent Japan because before then, I always thought of myself as a Japanese footballer. I started playing my first years in Japan, so everything was about Japan. But then, the Japanese coach turned around and said that there were a lot of good Japanese players everywhere and wished me luck. I thought that might have been my chance but it was not to be. Mentally, I don-t think I-m too Japanese but internally, through my stomach, I am so Japanese. Food-wise, I am so Japanese, I just love the food.
What is your favourite thing about Queensland so far?
Shelly Beach. I love Shelly Beach – it-s quiet, it-s like a secret of the Sunshine Coast and there-s no one ever there. It-s just a little beach, maybe just five or six football pitches wide. Yesterday, there was only two other people there. The water is so nice. I haven-t been to Cairns or Noosa yet but so far, I love the Sunshine Coast.
Being an artist as well, have you ever thought of pursuing something with art once your playing days are over?
Yes, that-s always been a big question. Over the past two or three years, I-ve had my stuff in a couple of galleries and cafes in Denmark – one in Copenhagen, one in Horsens and two charity works that I did that raised my art profile, or my football profile as an artist – that all really attracted people. I was styling my own apartment and my teammates- apartments until someone started throwing money in my face. It takes me about a month for me to do one painting, doing it for a couple of hours a day. For me, it-s relaxing because I can take my mind off football or I can watch football while I paint. I can get lost in the canvas. One day, I want to have my own lounge bar-style gallery. I-ve always hated normal galleries because I think they-re a bit more stuck up. It-s nicer when it-s a bit of a social area, bit more casual, like a wine bar with art. I don-t know where yet although Denmark really has that culture. They do have an appreciation for art, even youngsters. I don-t think my stuff would do too well in Japan because everyone socialises outside but in Scandinavia, everyone has a huge house or apartment with lots of furniture which is a very different culture. They show you around their house even if you don-t really care. You socialise at home because it-s expensive to go out so everyone likes to style their own place which I think helped my art. So my vision is to have this wine bar gallery because I-d love to mix urban art with a social area.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
I always stretch at night and I guess I always stretch more the night before a game. For some reason, I always clean the apartment the day before the game or the day of the game. I like to unclutter my life. I always throw stuff out on game day, I don-t have many things but I still like to throw it out, de-stress my life and simplify everything. I seem to only do it on game day or the day before a game.