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SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS - 第49回 「ウラへ抜けろ!」坂田大輔(プロサッカー選手/横浜F・マリノス)

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二宮清純「フットボールの時間」(10、20日更新) : 第49回 「ウラへ抜けろ!」坂田大輔(プロサッカー選手/横浜F・マリノス)
投稿日時: 2007-08-20 00:00:00

 眠っていたストライカーがやっと目覚めた。4月22日、Jリーグ第7節、大分戦。横浜F・マリノスのFW坂田大輔は2ゴールをあげ、圧勝(5対0)の立役者となった。



 1点目は前半41分、FW大島秀夫の折り返しをペナルティエリア内で受け、左足でゴール左隅へ流し込んだ。2点目は後半9分、MF吉田孝行のクロスをファーサイドでワントラップして、そのまま右足で決めた。自身初のハットトリックのチャンスもあったが、後半23分、FW斎藤陽介と交代。「(ハットトリックは)次にお預けですよ」と笑顔で語った。

 この試合の4日前、坂田に会った。リーグ戦で未だ無得点。「だいぶ、まずい状況ですね」としぶい表情をつくった。しかし、復活の予感を感じていたのか、「これから(ゴールを)量産しますよ」と最後には前向きのコメントを口にした。
 今季の横浜のキャッチフレーズは「スクランブル・アタック」。FWがチーム浮沈のカギを握る。「3、4点獲られても5点獲って勝つ試合がしたい」。きっぱりと坂田は言い切った。

 幼稚園の年長組でサッカーを始めた。子供の頃から運動神経がよく、足も速かった。小学5年生の時、Jリーグがスタートした。憧れの世界が目の前に広がっていた。
「Jリーグといえば、やはりキングカズ(三浦知良=横浜FC)でしょうね。ゴールした時のパフォーマンスもそうだけど、とにかく華やかだった。今でも憧れの人ですよ。一度、Jリーグアウォーズで一緒になったんですけど、皆“おい、カズだよ”って騒いでしまいました。同じタキシードを着ていても体から発散されるオーラが違っているような感じがしましたね」

 Jリーグは参加資格として各クラブに下部組織を持つことを義務付けた。坂田は横浜フリューゲルス(99年に消滅)のジュニアユースチームに入団した。
「マリノスも受けたんですけど、フリューゲルスはクラブが直々に“ウチにきてくれ”と言ってくれた。それが小学生の自分にはうれしかった。よしフリューゲルスでやろう、と」

 高1の冬の朝だった。寝ていると母親に叩き起こされた。
「合併しちゃったらしいよ」
 テレビのニュースはフリューゲルスがマリノスに吸収合併されたことを報じていた。

「ショックというよりも、もう何が何だかわからなかった。そんな話、全く聞いていませんでしたから。
 とりあえず、チームと連絡をとって、その日の練習には行くことにしました。だけどユースの監督やコーチは情報を把握し切れていなくて“オレたちが今できることは練習だけだ”と。オレは自宅から通っていたのでまだよかったけど、寮に入っていた者たちは不安だったと思いますよ。クラブをクビになっても高校を変えることはできませんからね」

 この3月10日にはフリューゲルスの流れをくむ横浜FCとダービーマッチを戦った。結果は1対0で横浜FCの勝利。
「あの結果は相手に呑まれちゃいましたね。ただ、フリューゲルスがどうのこうのという意識はなかった。横浜を本拠地とするチーム同士の対決ということで、一番負けたくない相手に負けた。ただそれだけでしたね」

 坂田の名前が一躍脚光を浴びたのは2003年末、UAEで行われた世界ユース選手権だろう。U-20日本代表をベスト8に導いたのが4得点をあげ、大会の得点王に輝いた坂田だった。
「あの大会は大悟(小林大悟=大宮アルディージャ)がパサーだったので面白いようにやれました。相手は外国人なので日本語がわからないじゃないですか。だからウラを狙う動きとは明らかに違うジェスチュアをして“今から走るからウラに出してくれ”といってパスをもらったりしました。日本では使えない手ですけどね(笑)」

 DFラインのウラに抜けるスピードには定評がある。体が切れている時には手がつけられない。
単刀直入に訊いた。
――ウラへ抜けるコツは?
「まずは相手の背後に回る。目で追われるとついてこられてしまう。一瞬でも早く相手の視界から消えることです」

――03年から06年の途中まで指導を受けた岡田武史監督からはどんなアドバイスを?
「“とにかく自分の持ち味を出せ、他のことは気にするな”と言われました。だからオレの場合、とにかくウラへ抜ける技術に磨きをかけようと。自分の長所を再確認できました」

 昨年8月9日、オシムジャパンの初陣となるトリニダード・トバゴ戦で日本代表として初めてプレーした。
――オシムサッカーの印象は?
「とにかく走るサッカーです。しかも頭を使いながら走る。実際、そのことばかり言っているし、練習の内容もそういうものでした。練習では足をちょっと止めただけで注意されました。“なんでオマエはこの場所へ、こう走らないんだ”と。何が何でも足を動かせという感じですね」

 グループリーグで敗退したドイツW杯ではFWの決定力不足が露呈した。結局、3試合で日本のFWはたった1点しか獲ることができなかった。
――FWにとって1番大切なものは?
「オレはゴールへの嗅覚だと思っています。極端な話、90分間でいくらシュートをはずしても、その中の1本を決めればいい。だから失敗しても気にせず、90分が終わるまでチャンスを待ち続ける。反省は試合が終わってからやればいいかと」

 坂田は4月28日の第8節・新潟戦でも2試合連続となる2ゴールを挙げた。横浜が3点をリードした後半6分、ライン裏へ鋭く抜け出して、冷静に右足で右隅に決めると、その5分後にも右クロスを柔らかなタッチで左隅へ流し込んだ。

 野生のストライカーが世界を脅かす日は来るのか。

(この原稿は07年6月5日号『ビッグコミックオリジナル』に掲載されました)



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