Soccer

Honda presented as AC Milan's newest player

MILAN (AP) — Keisuke Honda always knew he'd be playing in the Serie A and wearing a No. 10 shirt.

The Japan forward was presented on Wednesday as an AC Milan player after signing a 3½-year contract on a free transfer from CSKA Moscow. "I knew that one day my dream would be realized," Honda said. "When I was 12 I wrote in an essay that one day I would play in Serie A with the No. 10."

Scores of Japanese journalists crowded in with local media at the presentation inside the San Siro. Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni, a former Milan manager, encouraged Honda's move to Italy. Mired in 11th place, Milan is hoping Honda can help the club to a second-half surge.

He'll team with Kaka and Mario Balotelli in attack and will likely make his debut at Sassuolo on Sunday. "I don't think the squad is in such bad condition," said Honda, who watched Milan's 3-0 win over Atalanta on Monday from the stands. "I saw the match the other day and we did pretty well. And we can probably still improve a lot."

Honda's contract is reportedly worth 2.7 million euros ($3.7 million) per season. Honda was asked he'd ever met a samurai. "I've never met a samurai. But I do believe that Japanese people never give up. We have a strong mentality, we're determined and we follow strict discipline," Honda said. "I think I have these characteristics and I want to show that on the field."

Honda scored 28 goals in 127 matches with CSKA. He also has 20 goals in 52 appearances for Japan. He'll be the latest in a handful of Japanese players to appear in Serie A, following Hidetoshi Nakata, Shunsuke Nakamura and Yuto Nagatomo, a fullback currently with Milan's city rival Inter.

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