Driving force in HIROAKI MORISHIMA's engine

Going to be the winning club the fans root for. Going to be the winning club the fans root for.
Born in 1972. He signed with the Yanmar Diesel Soccer Club (JAPAN) in 1991. The Club became Cerezo Osaka right before the team entered Japan professional football league, J-League. He retired in 2008 after playing for Cerezo Osaka. As a Japanese national team player, he participated in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. In the 2002 Japan-Korea World Cup, he scored against Tunisia at Nagai Stadium, the home of Cerezo Osaka, and contributed to the team's advancement to the last 16. After retiring, he worked as an ambassador and in the team development department before being appointed President and Representative Director of Cerezo Osaka Corporation in December 2018. Nicknamed "Mr. Cerezo" and "Morishi" by supporters.

※Interviewed online on February 9, 2021.

He has always been
a Cerezo player,
and never thought of leaving.

Cerezo Osaka's uniform number 8 became the ace number started with Hiroaki Morishima. The number passed on to Cerezo starts including Shinji Kagawa, Hiroshi Kiyotake, and Yoichiro Kakitani. Thanks to Morishima’s plays and personality who continued to charm people ever since he joined the Yanmar Diesel Soccer Club. To the surprise of fans, he was appointed president of Cerezo Osaka Co. in 2018. There is no other example in the J League of a player joining a club as a player and remaining involved with the club after retirement to become the president. We interviewed President Morishima about his thoughts on Cerezo Osaka and his driving force, the "engine" on his continued activities.
Q:What were your thoughts when you first joined the Club?
I received an offer from the Yanmar Diesel Soccer Club when the club was going to be a professional team and I signed with them. I could have chosen an amateur team, but I wanted to challenge myself as a player, so I decided to go to a professional team. However, looking back now, I don't think I was ready to be a professional player at that time, could not even imagine of the professional career. When the J League started in 1993, I saw how people cheer for the teams and my desire to play there became even stronger. In December of that year, Osaka Soccer Club Co., Ltd. was established (the former Cerezo Osaka Co.), and the team name was changed to Cerezo Osaka.
I think the fact that I was able to make good performance as a professional player was largely because of the influence of my coach at Yanmar, Mr. Nelson Yoshimura. He saw me missing chances and told me how important to make up my own mind. I have learned a part that I was lacking. This led us to win the JFL championship in 1994 and enter the J League in 1995, and I was selected for the Japan national team because I leaned the true meaning of a goal-oriented attitude. During my time at Yanmar, I was able to learn some very important things as a football player to develop my career.
Q:Did you ever think about moving to a different country and leave Cerezo Osaka?
I've never wanted to transfer. We almost won the championship and were relegated to J2, but I wanted to win the championship with this club and be more powerful, so that more people would know and cheer for Cerezo Osaka. When we were relegated to J2, it was all because of our performance that year, so I was determined not to let things end like this.
However, later when Shinji Kagawa transferred from Cerezo to Dortmund, I watched his debut game in Germany and imagine how it would be like to play there. I was already retired though. (lol) I saw my former teammates playing overseas, and that was the first time I felt that way about myself. I still have the uniform that he gave me as a gift at that time.
Q:You have been an ambassador, a club staff member, and a president since you retired, has there been any change in your mind?
There are things that never changed for me. I want to win the championship with all of members in this club, and I want more fans to root for Cerezo Osaka. Of course, now that I am in the position of president, I do things differently. In the past, I had the perspective of a player playing good to help the team win, but now I think that not only the team, but also the club staff and everyone else really needs to unite and work towards the same goal of winning the championship.
Cerezo Osaka has a lot of staff who have supported the club with their passion, so I need to be firmer in showing the direction and need their support for it.
President Morishima's passion for winning the championship has not wavered even though his position has changed. His honest attitude is similar to the way he ran tirelessly on the pitch during his playing days.

To be a family with a winner's mind.

President Morishima is deeply involved in the history of Cerezo Osaka. This is how he sees the Cerezo Osaka in its history and the vision he has for the club.
Q:What is the characteristic of Cerezo Osaka President Morishima sees?
One thing that has not changed since I joined the team is the family vibe. We are very open to new players, and there is always unity. I think the atmosphere at Cerezo Osaka is about the belonging to the team and the fans.
However, even though we call ourselves a family, of course we cannot win just by being good friends. We work hard and show our persistence and commitment to win the game.
Although I was not able to win the championship myself, I felt that watching the players won the Cup in 2017 gave me more confidence and made me more conscious to aim even higher. I would like to make the club even better by combining family feeling that the club values with our commitment to winning.
Q:Football is a sport that is popular all over the world. What kind of club do you want Cerezo Osaka to be in the eyes of the world?
As a club, we envision to become "the glory Osakan club known widely in Asia and the world".
First of all, I would like to be a beloved team from Osaka that attracts many fans with exciting games we play and move the hearts of people. What impresses the viewers is the players shine on the pitch. We will focus on the performance, increase competitiveness, and create an environment where we can grow.
The club should be in good condition all the time to go to the Asian Champions League. Each of us must constantly challenge ourselves with high motivation.
Seeing former Cerezo players like Kagawa, Inui, and Minamino taking on the challenge internationally, I am sure that the current players will want to aim higher and work harder. And I want to bring out more and more players like them who can lead the club by their spirits. By doing so, a good cycle will be created for the club, and Cerezo will naturally be conveyed overseas.
Morishima has been involved with Cerezo Osaka for a long time. He can see the strengths and weaknesses of the team. To gain more fans, how do they make up for the shortcomings while utilizing their strengths? We can see Morishima plans a different kind of game than when he was a player.
Play to win the championship and the title,
no matter what it takes.
Finally, we asked Morishima about his "engine" and his enthusiasm for the future.
Q:Please tell us again about the "engine" behind Morishima, the president of Cerezo Osaka.
To begin with, I never thought I would be involved in management. When I got the offer to become president, I consulted with various people and felt the love for the club from each of them, which changed my thought. I had the same desire to make the club better, so I decided to do the best I could and do what I needed to do. I was also proud to be a member of Cerezo Osaka and to wear this emblem. I want to create a new history with that pride always in mind.. Again, my "engine" is nothing other than the desire to win together and make the club even better. When we won the title for the first time in 2017, the players and staff looked really good, and I knew that the title was something irreplaceable. In order to make Cerezo Osaka a club that competes for the championship every season, I think it is my role to make decisions and show the direction of the club so that everyone can experience that feeling again.
Q:What are some of the challenges you would like to take on as president and what are your ambitions for the future?
The opening match at the new YODOKO SAKURA Stadium is scheduled for June. The stadium is designed to be very close to the field, and the cheer of the fans reach the players. Come watch the great play and feel our hospitality at the new stadium. The club wants to show more goals, win more games, win the title, and add more stars to our uniforms with exciting plays that will make everyone want to come to the stadium again and again.
I would also like to offer something other than games to the people who come to watch the games. The club staff is coming up with a lot of ideas, but I myself need to show more of me supporting the team and fans, so I'd like to come up with a couple of more new ideas. As a player, I was an aggressive player, but my ideas were more conservative, so it was quite difficult. (lol) Of course, the premise is to inspire people with our games, but we would like to create something else that people can look forward to when they go to see a Cerezo Osaka game. I hope you will look forward to it as well.
The player who was once loved as “Morishi" is now running around off the pitch for the Cerezo family as president. We want to share the winning joy with President Morishima, who has been obsessed with the result. He will overcome the pressure and make the team win the title. Mr. Cerezo, Hiroaki Morishima's new challenge has just begun.