It is a day short of five months ago that Daigo Kobayashi made his full debut in an orange shirt against in the opening game of the season against JEF United - but that match might well go down as the most important of his career to date. One goal and no fewer than three assists got his life as Squirrel off to a flying start and if JEF coach Ivica Osim had not been aware of the 23-year-old from over 100 games with Tokyo Verdy 1969 stretching back to 2001, he must surely have made the journey back to Chiba on that Saturday in early March with the name Daigo Kobayashi looming large in his mind.
Now, of course, Osim has stepped up to the plate as the new coach to the Japan national team, and Friday finally saw the announcement that every Ardija supporter had been waiting for: that Daigo Kobayashi has been selected for the national squad to play against Trinidad & Tobago next week. This therefore makes him the first Omiya player ever to make the breakthrough to international football, but indications are that even better news is on the horizon. Namely, that all things being well, Daigo will remain part of the squad not only for the Trinidad game, but also for the forthcoming Asian Cup qualifiers beginning against Yemen in Niigata on 16th August.
Kobayashi himself took the news with characteristic quiet confidence. He has long held the ambition of playing for the national team, but regards being chosen as only a first step, not an end in itself. For the Omiya star openly says that he wants to become established as an integral player for Japan over the coming four years, leading up to South Africa 2010 and the next World Cup.