Takahara hails Funkel
By Edwin Chong
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Eintracht Frankfurt's Naohiro Takahara has paid tribute to his boss Friedhelm Funkel.
Eintracht Frankfurt's Naohiro Takahara has paid tribute to his boss Friedhelm Funkel for turning his career around.
The Japan international has shown marked improvement in form since moving to Eintracht from Hamburg in the summer, and the forward says he owes it all to Funkel.
"The thing that makes me the happiest about Eintracht is how much the coach, Friedhelm Funkel, values me," the 27-year-old told Asahi Shimbun.
"He gives me a lot of encouragement, which is something that can often be overlooked. Players like myself need to feel wanted by the team and fans.
"This is an extremely important time for me. I am at a new team where I'm determined to stay for a long time.
"Eintracht is a club on the rise and I consider myself to be an integral part of this side's ambition."
Takahara, who scored the winner in Eintracht's 1-0 win over Energie Cottbus in Wednesday's Bundesliga fixture, admitted he needs to score more goals if his club are to play in Europe next season.
"The team is relying on me to get the goals. The way we play I will probably get a few chances, especially headers from crosses.
"We could do with getting a few wins in a row. It'd put some early season nerves at ease.
"I want this club to get into European tournaments next season again. I'd love it if we made the Champions League. As a player, that's where you want to be playing against the best sides on the continent.
"It might seem a tall order now but I reckon we could be close at the end of the season. It's a competitive league at the moment because there aren't too many exceptional sides.
"I think we won't be too far from the top three spots at the end of the season."