Rest of Asia Uzbekistan

European Glory for Kamada, Hasebe and Eldor

Eintracht Frankfurt were crowned as champions of the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League following the German side’s penalty shootout triumph over Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville on May 19th Both of Eintracht’s Japanese stars were featured in the match, with Daichi Kamada playing out the whole 120 minutes and Makoto Hasebe coming on as a second half substitute. Only a week from Eintracht’s triumph, Italian giants AS Roma managed to win the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League with a 1-0 win over Feyenoord of the Netherlands at the Arena Kombetare in Tirana on May 26th, with another Asian player, Uzbekistan international Eldor Shomurodov, featuring for the champions.

Former Sagan Tosu player Kamada has been a key figure in Eintracht’s European run this season, scoring five times including a goal in the semifinal first leg against West Ham United. Eintracht manager Oliver Glasner started Kamada on Wednesday final against Rangers, in a front three that also includes Colombian striker Rafael Santos Borre and Danish attacking midfielder Jesper Lindstrom.

Veteran midfielder Hasebe, who clocked up more than 200 league matches for Eintracht, started the final from the bench, ready to be used as an impact sub if needed.

After a goalless first half, Joe Aribo gave Rangers the lead in the 57th minute, however, Borre managed to draw things level in the 69th minute, taking advantage of a superb Filip Kostic pass. The 1-1 scoreline remained that way after both full-time and extra-time, so the Europa League final was decided on penalties.

By that point, Kamada had clocked up an impressive performance by carving out a number of chances, while Hasebe, introduced in the 58th minute replacing Brazilian defender Tuta, provided a sense of stability in the engine room.

Kamada was among the players who managed to score their penalty in the shootout, with only Rangers’ Aaron Ramsey failing his task as Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp managed to deny the Welshman’s tame shot. Eintracht’s Europa League title was secured after Borre slotted home the winning penalty past Allan McGregor in the Rangers’ goal, winning Die Adler their first European title in 42 years.

Both Kamada and Hasebe – who won their first European titles – were not the only Asian interest in Eintracht’s Europa League-winning squad. Also winning his first European title was Australia international Ajdin Hrustic, who, like Hasebe, came into the fray as a substitute.

Eldor Etch Himself into the History Books

A week after Eintracht’s European triumph, Jose Mourinho’s Roma side took the Arena Kombetare pitch on a mission to win their first European trophy. Standing between I Lupi and the 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League title was Dutch giants Feyenoord, who were looking to win their first European title in 20 years.

Holding off a stern Feyenoord side, Roma managed to clinch this season’s Conference League title in a 1-0 win, thanks to a 32nd minute goal from Nicolo Zaniolo.

History was made in the final minutes of the match as Uzbek international Eldor came into the fray, replacing fellow striker Tammy Abraham. Despite only scoring a handful of goals in his Roma stint this season – one of them coming in the Conference League qualifiers against Turkish giants Trabzonspor – Eldor had racked up enough matches to earn himself a Conference League winners’ medal, becoming the first Uzbek player to win a major European title in the process.

Eldor’s rise up the footballing ranks was quite incredible considering the only other major honor that he has won was the 2014 UzPFL Cup title with Mash’al Mubarek in his first year as a professional.

Sadly, the success of Kamada, Hasebe, Hrustic, and Eldor couldn’t be followed by Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino. The Japan international was an unused substitute as the Reds lost the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League final 1-0 to Real Madrid on May 29th.