Though Kazuyoshi Miura has enjoyed a long and fulfilling career in football, Monday's game against Deportivo Saprissa was his debut appearance in a major international tournament. Putting the initial setback of losing the first match out of his mind, Kazu prefers to concentrate on the challenge ahead in his side's second game, against Al Ahly on Friday.
"I am going to go out there, motivated, fired up, just like I was against Deportivo," he says before a huddle of Japanese journalists that have tracked his every move since returning to his homeland sporting the Sky Blue colours of Sydney FC, "except this time of course, get the win. I want to give something back to fans who came out and really got behind us."
Due to the conditions of his contract with the Australian club, the game against Al Ahly on 16 December will be his last chance for glory for the Australian side. However, regardless of the outcome at the final whistle, the month he spent in his second spell in the southern hemisphere, short though it may have been, was fulfilling.
"Compared to my year in Italy, the year in Croatia and the eight years in Brazil, the past few weeks have been remarkably intense," he tells FIFA.com. "To have been able to take part in the fledgling Hyundai A-League was important for me, and an experience I will cherish. I was free to pour every ounce of my energy into football, football, and football. Playing in a foreign country and making new friends really widened my horizons and left me feeling spiritually richer."
There were few ripples caused in Japan as Sydney FC were drawn against Costa Rica's Saprissa in the ceremony at the end of July. Aside from having Pierre "Litti" Littbarski, former Germany international and J-League legend as their manager, there was very little that the average Japanese football fan knew about Sydney FC.
But that was before King Kazu joined the Oz outfit on loan. Kazu had previously made a shock move from Vissel Kobe to Yokohama FC a month earlier. One of Japan's superstars taking a step back and joining a J2 club had the sports media writhing in frenzied disbelief. Kazu, however, was proud to be at his new club, their lower league status not dampening his enthusiasm for one second. The maturity and level-headedness of his attitude extinguished overnight the negative sensationalism that first greeted the news of his transfer, leaving instead a deep respect. "King" Kazu's reign was far from over.
The 28,000 spectators that ventured to the Toyota Stadium to see Kazu play exceeded all expectations.
"So many people have told me that what I gave them courage, but in reality I am the one that takes strength from their loyalty and support, and Monday was no exception," he adds. "That, through football, what you do can positively affect other people is amazing. It is the fans that keep a player like me going. That, and the hunger for success."
That desire came to the fore once more during his time in the harbour city.
"A-League players are not living life on easy street, nobody is there pulling in six figures a week. Veterans and youth alike, they are giving their all, not for a big salary or a glamorous lifestyle but because football is what their life is all about," philosophises the 38-year-old striker. "The work ethic is instilled in the way they train and that is the way I have played all my life. The players have a really tough mentality, which is something I hope all Japan, players and fans alike, will get to see in the next match."
Can the Oceania champions turn bitter tears to sweet victory against the Egyptians on Friday? Kazu is confident.
"I saw their first match and was impressed by their defence. But for me, focusing on your opponents' strengths is not as useful as knowing your own and getting yourself mentally prepared and motivated," he says. "The first half on Monday was ideal. More of the same for the full 90 minutes and we could come through victorious this time around."
Although the world club crown has evaded him, Kazu's performance in the 5th place playoff, his Sydney FC farewell, is bound to be one worthy of royalty.