Sasa Kalajdzic celebrates the goal scorer Wataru Endo (right) in front of the VfB Stuttgart fans.  Photo: Baumann/Hansjürgen Britsch

Sasa Kalajdzic celebrates the goal scorer Wataru Endo (right) in front of the VfB Stuttgart fans. Photo: Baumann/Hansjürgen Britsch

He tops some stats at VfB Stuttgart, but that’s not the only reason Wataru Endo is particularly valuable to the team – as the Japanese proved with his winning goal.

A Hollywood writer could not have written this screenplay better: A game full of drama, and at the end a hero of the work who scores the winning goal. In injury time, Wataru Endo luckily opened the scoring with a header in VfB Stuttgart’s 2-1 win over 1. FC Köln. And there is hardly a professional in the squad of the Bundesliga soccer team that deserves this highly emotional moment like the Japanese.

Endo is VfB’s frequent player (33 appearances, 2902 minutes, seventh place among the top players in the league), the kilometer eater (350.9 kilometers in total, an average of 11.8 kilometers per game, seventh place in the league), the duel king (overall 806 duels, 55.6 percent won, fifth place with the best quota in the league), the captain and the role model of a young team that always needs support. “Wataru Endo is the prototype of what we want to be mentally,” says sporting director Sven Mislintat.

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After initial difficulties this season, the 29-year-old midfielder has again proved to be a stabilizer because his performances hardly fluctuate. And last but not least, he lifted VfB up to 15th place in the table with his fourth goal of the season ahead of Hertha BSC (relegation).

About an hour after the end of the game, Endo led the VfB players back onto the battered lawn of the Mercedes-Benz Arena to celebrate with the fans. Relaxed dances of joy were once again performed in the circle of the team in front of the Cannstatt curve. Endo kept retreating a few meters with his bottle of beer in hand. To enjoy in silence. That suits him. He doesn’t like to be the center of attention.

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The national player prefers to do his job with Far Eastern excellence. “Wataru Endo always lives up to his captain’s armband. He’s a great leader,” says coach Pellegrino Matarazzo. Although – or precisely because – the man with the shirt number three prefers to let actions speak rather than words. Just like Hiroki Ito, who prepared the magic moment after a corner kick. So the Swabians managed to stay in the class thanks to a Japanese co-production. And the team-mates knew who they finally had to thank: they cheered Endo and threw him in the air – good Endo, everything was good at VfB in the end.

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