Japan’s Honda arrives in Mexico, speaking Spanish

Pachuca (Mexico) (AFP) – Japan international Keisuke Honda surprised journalists by speaking passable Spanish as he gave his debut press conference Tuesday at his new club, Mexico’s Pachuca.

The 31-year-old, who signed with the Mexican first-division club last week after a three-year stint at AC Milan, amused sports reporters covering his arrival in Mexico by greeting them with a nearly accentless “Hola a todos” (hello everyone).

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m very happy to be here,” he said to smiles.

“I prepared this Spanish yesterday. Please, speak Spanish slowly.”

Honda, instantly recognizable with his bleach-blond surfer’s haircut, shot to fame when he helped Japan reach the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He will be the first Japanese footballer to play in Mexico’s first division.

His Mexico move ended months of speculation about his future after a frustrating spell in Italy.

Turkey’s Galatasaray and several MLS sides, including the LA Galaxy, had reportedly been eying him.

Founded in 1901 — making it one of the oldest clubs in the Americas — Pachuca have won the Mexican title six times.

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