WATARU ENDO

During his childhood in Yokohama, Japan, Waturu Endo grew up with dreams of playing for the Premier League. This became a reality in August 2023 when – after residencies at clubs in Belgium and Germany – he was signed by Jürgen Klopp for the world-famous Liverpool FC. A defensive midfielder, his talent has taken him across the world, but his passion for his home country remains. As well as his move to the UK, 2023 was also the first year Endō captained his national side, known as Samurai Blue – whose players dunhill exclusively outfits in special-edition suits. Now in its historic 25th year, the latest iteration of this long-standing collaboration has just launched for footballers and tailoring fans alike. To celebrate this milestone, dunhill speaks to Endo about his pride in representing his country, the on-pitch characteristics that set him apart, and why self-improvement will always be his goal.

As captain of the Japan national football team, how does it feel to be part of this historic collaboration?

Given the long relationship between the Japan Football Association and Dunhill, it’s a pleasure to be involved. Wearing the suit feels like representing Japan, and I’m very happy to be one who can wear it.

“As Japan captain, I believe playing for Liverpool inspires my national team teammates.”

What key characteristics of a Japanese footballer do you think you bring to the European game – and how has this helped you?

I think Japanese players are valued for our humility and for our for-the-team spirit. However, if you only show that and you don’t get results, you won’t get the recognition you need. When I came to Europe, as a new foreign player, I focused on contributing uniquely while maintaining my Japanese humility. This approach led to my recognition as a midfielder who consistently wins back the ball.

What is a defining moment in your career that has shaped you into the player and person you are today?

For me, not a single moment was meaningless. I truly believe that each experience has
shaped me into who I am today.

“I focused on contributing uniquely while maintaining my Japanese humility. This approach led to my recognition as a midfielder who consistently wins back the ball.”

As a leader both on and off the field, what values do you prioritise in guiding your team?

I like to be someone who leads by example – by the way I play. As Japan captain, I believe playing for Liverpool inspires my national team teammates. Off the pitch, I’m aware that I need to show that we must strive to keep improving ourselves.

How do you handle setbacks in high-stakes matches?

Naturally, things don’t always go according to plan in matches and that’s disappointing. When that happens, it’s very important not to forget the frustrations you felt, but to use them to grow. Use each setback as a springboard.

As someone who values sophistication and style, how do you express your flair both on and off the pitch?

I aim to show cleverness and tactical sense, alongside Japanese humility and team-first mentality on the pitch. Off the pitch, I’m trying to learn new languages to communicate better with other players.

Lastly, what legacy do you hope to leave behind?

When things are not going well, I think it’s important to be able to face the things that you don’t want to face the most. It’s important to analyse yourself carefully, always asking yourself why things didn’t go well or why you didn’t get the results you wanted.

Lastly, what legacy do you hope to leave behind?

That I was able to make my mark as a Japanese defensive midfielder. In the future, if players who are going to play in the midfield can aspire to be like Wataru Endo and strive to be better than me, then that would make my footballing life incredibly meaningful.

“Wearing the suit feels like representing Japan, and I’m very happy to be one who can wear it.”

Wataru Endo was photographed in this season’s 2024 Samurai Blue Collection. dunhill is the official suit provider of the Japanese national football team.

Related Stories

THE CASE OF DELIGHTS

Introducing the ‘Alfred Dunhill’ Case of Delights, a beautifully-constructed curation of items to indulge your pleasures.

OSEI BONSU

Osei Bonsu is an author and curator whose passion lies in amplifying the works of artists from the African diaspora and the representation of African art in museums across the world, as well as mentored emerging talent through his digital platform, Creative Africa Network.