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Honda driving Japanese football forward

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Honda keeping Japan motoring
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Keisuke Honda is the star of the Japanese football team
  • Has played for CSKA Moscow since December 2009
  • Rumors of move to a bigger European team this winter
  • Dream move would be the play for Real Madrid

(CNN) -- Keisuke Honda is the rising star of Japanese football.

The 24-year-old has been likened to a Japanese David Beckham, both as an attacking midfielder with devastating free-kick skills, and as a pin-up with a distinctive off-the-pitch style.

But the CSKA Moscow player would rather be known for his own achievements.

"I'm not [Beckham] and I don't think I can ever become him. I want to create something by myself, out of my own individuality. I want to show the world myself, not copying other people," he told CNN.

"Like any other football player I want to be number one, professionally. But on the other hand, I want to work on my appearance while I'm working on my football skills, pointing out that a best football player can be the most handsome one, too. These are probably the two ideas which help me express myself."

The Japanese team has a problem; we don't know very well how to score.
--Keisuke Honda, footballer
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By plying his trade in Europe he's already achieved more than most Asian footballers.

A large part of his drive to succeed comes from a disciplined upbringing -- "[my father] would always get mad at me if I wasn't the best" -- that fostered in Honda a competitive instinct and strong work ethic.

He first played for J-League team Nagoya Grampus 8 before spending two seasons with Dutch side VVV-Venlo; he moved to Moscow in December 2009.

Despite joining the Russian side for a fee of around $13 million less than a year ago there is speculation that Honda will move to a top club possibly in Italy, Spain or England later this winter.

If the footballer had his wish there would only be one destination: "When I was a little kid I loved Real Madrid. If I could play for that club, it would be a huge personal achievement for me. I think my dreams would come true then. To achieve that, I need to work really hard. Today is what matters. So, day after day, I concentrate and I work hard. And maybe in the future Real Madrid will invite me to join the club," he said.

Honda has made his mark during his time in Moscow, helping the team make the group stages of the UEFA Champions League last season.

His good form continued through the summer with Japan in the World Cup, scoring the winning goal against Cameroon. Honda however is candid about the national team's chances of greater success in the future.

"There are several problems. I think our main problem is... there are no really strong strikers. We don't know very well how to score. If the Japanese team can work on that weakness, we will become a country with a football team that deserves respect on the highest level," he said.

And Honda is determined to do whatever it takes to play consistently at the highest level.

"A constant pressure is something that this sport won't exist without. I will keep on feeling this pressure as long as I am playing. Without it, it wouldn't be exciting. I'm planning on following a principle of high risk and high return, aiming only at the highest goals."

Keisuke Honda talked to CNN at the Ritz-Carlton, Moscow

 
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