On the 20th, Urayasu Stadium, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, held a match between Incheon University (Korea) and Tsukuba University (Japan), which participated in the 1st Korea-Japan College Football Junior Championship. The match ended with Tsukuba University winning 5-1, but the reporters’ attention was focused on the winner rather than striker Masato Handai, who scored the hat trick. This is because head coach Hirayama Sota (38), who is familiar to Korean soccer fans, was holding the baton at Tsukuba University.
Hirayama was a striker representing Japan during his active career. With a height of 1m90cm, he played in the 2003 and 2005 World Youth Championships, and also played an active part in the Japanese U-23 national team at the 2004 Athens Olympics. At the age of 20, he made his professional debut with Hercules Al Mello of the Dutch professional football Eredivisie and experienced the European stage, which shows that his potential and expectations were great.
Hirayama, who wore the number 9 uniform, formed a rivalry with Park Ju-young (38, Ulsan Hyundai). The two faced each other in the semi-finals of the 2004 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Youth Championship (now the U-20 Asian Cup) and scored one goal each, showing a sense of rivalry. Coincidentally, both lost in the penalty shootout. At that time, Korea defeated Japan 3-2 in a penalty shootout and won the championship by beating China 2-0 in the final.
When Hirayama, who met with domestic reporters, heard the word ‘Park Joo-young’, he relaxed his expression and laughed. He said, “I remember Park Joo-young,” and after saying, “I played a lot in Gyeonggi-do in the past. I remember because we were the same age.” He continued, “Kim Jin-gyu, who played as a central defender, is also a memorable Korean soccer player.” All three who dominated an era are now walking on the path of leaders.
Hirayama rose like a comet, scoring 8 goals in 31 regular league matches in his first season in Europe, but suddenly returned to FC Tokyo (Japan) the following year. In the Japanese professional soccer J-League, he had ups and downs, but retired from Vegalta Sendai (Japan) in 2018. He said, “It has been five years since I retired and became a leader. I think he was lacking in effort to live up to (the expectations of those around him).”
After retiring from active duty, Hirayama started nurturing young people at his alma mater, the University of Tsukuba. The general manager of Tsukuba University is Masaki Koido, and Hirayama serves as the team’s head coach. Hirayama took the baton for the freshman and sophomore championships. Tsukuba University is famous as the school that produced Kaoru Mitoma (26), an attacking midfielder who plays for Brighton & Hove Albion FC in the English Premier League (EPL).
Hirayama, nicknamed the ‘monster striker’, applied a tactic that puts pressure on his opponent and puts the attack point on the Tsukuba team through a fast build-up. He said, “When I was active, I wanted to taste the difference between heaven and hell when I met many coaches and won or lost,” he said.
Hirayama, whose goal as a leader is to coach a professional team, is said to have a special teaching style in nurturing his disciples. He said, 바카라사이트“In the past, I used to feel pressure from people around me saying, ‘I have to do something’. (As a coach) I always say to college players now that it’s not your problem, it’s the coach’s problem. They are leading players to discover and improve their own problems without putting pressure on them.”