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Captain Tsubasa creator targets real-life football glory

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Captain Tsubasa creator targets real-life football glory

Japanese cartoon hero Captain Tsubasa inspired Lionel Messi and countless other football stars worldwide. Now its creator is laying down his pen and aiming for the top with his own real-life team.

Yoichi Takahashi began writing the comic strip about 11-year-old football prodigy Tsubasa Ozora in 1981 and saw it grow into a global smash hit spawning animated films, video games and even statues in his hometown in eastern Tokyo.

Known as “Holly e Benji” in Italy and “Super Campeones” in Spanish-speaking Latin America, the franchise was avidly read and watched by players such as Messi and Andres Iniesta on their way to superstar status.

Now Takahashi is preparing to wrap up the comic series and focus on a different passion — attempting to lead his local non-league side into Japan’s professional J-League in his role as owner.

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The club were renamed Nankatsu SC — after Captain Tsubasa’s fictional school team — when Takahashi came on board.

“I can do something new from here,” the 62-year-old told AFP at his Tokyo studio, adorned with signed football shirts given to him by famous fans such as Iniesta and his former Spain team-mate Fernando Torres.

“It doesn’t mean that I’m completely stopping all creative work. I’d like to start something new in my own way while I still have the energy.”

Takahashi became hooked on football after watching the 1978 World Cup on TV.

He created Captain Tsubasa with the intention of helping to popularise the sport in Japan, which did not have a professional league at the time.

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Now, more than 100 countries are believed to have tuned into the series and the stories have sold more than 70 million copies in book form in Japan and more than 10 million overseas.

“I had no idea that people around the world would see it,” he said.

Captain Tsubasa Stadium?

Takahashi says the upcoming series of the comic will likely be the last he draws, although the beloved character will live on in other formats.

He says he is looking forward to being free of weekly deadlines and has “no bad feelings” about stopping.

Takahashi became involved with his local club 10 years ago and took over as owner in 2019, helping them rise to the fifth tier of the Japanese football pyramid.

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Nankatsu are now just two promotions away from reaching J3, the third rung of the J-League.

Takahashi believes they can go all the way to the top flight but he says the essence of the club is more important than league position.

“In Europe it’s just natural that you support your local club, but we didn’t have that culture in Japan,” he said.

“I didn’t have a local club so I wanted to create one myself.”

The J-League will kick off its 30th anniversary season later this month, and it has grown from 10 clubs in 1993 to 60 across three divisions.

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Nankatsu’s local government last month announced that it would buy land to build the club a new stadium, which they would need to gain J-League membership.

Takahashi says it could be named “Captain Tsubasa Stadium” and there are plans to include a museum of character memorabilia to attract tourists from all over the world.

The club have even recruited big-name players to help their promotion push, signing former Japan internationals Junichi Inamoto and Yasuyuki Konno.

Messi magic
Takahashi says being a club owner is “sometimes fun, but more often it’s difficult”.

“With a comic, you can shut yourself away in a room and draw it as you see it, but when you’re an owner, you have to meet a lot of people and come up with plans.”

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He has played a big part in helping football culture take root in Japan, and believes there is room for it to grow further.

He thinks Japan can win the World Cup in his lifetime and he sees similarities between young national team forward Takefusa Kubo and Captain Tsubasa.

Takahashi was in Qatar to watch last year’s World Cup final, and was happy to see Messi finally lift the trophy after years of trying.

But he says Captain Tsubasa’s ability to inspire is something that “doesn’t just go for superstar players”.

“Comics are something that, at heart, are for kids,” he said.

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“If a comic can have a positive impact on kids at that stage of their lives, then that makes me very happy.”

Entertainment

Relatives taunted me for joining showbiz world, Sadia Imam

Relatives taunted me for joining showbiz world, Sadia Imam

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Relatives taunted me for joining showbiz world, Sadia Imam

Recently, renowned Pakistani actor Sadia Imam talked about taunts she received from her relatives after joining the showbiz industry.

She recently participated in a private TV show and spoke openly about various topics including her career and marriage.

Talking about marriage, she said that after joining the showbiz industry, the first taunt came from her own relatives as they said she would not get married and even if she does, it would be with an already married person.

She said that before marriage, her parents used to hear such things every day and she has seen them going through agony due to these uncalled for remarks.

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However, she said,”I remained steadfast and told my parents that I would marry whomever they chose but work is my priority,” Imam said.

Talking about her husband, she said she married a young man and now they both have beautiful children.

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Amitabh Bachchan gifts his bungalow to daughter Shweta Nanda

Amitabh Bachchan gifts his bungalow to daughter Shweta Nanda

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Amitabh Bachchan gifts his bungalow to daughter Shweta Nanda

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bachchan gifted their bungalow in Mumbai’s Juhu, Prateeksha, to their daughter Shweta Nanda.

The bungalow in the Vitthalnagar Cooperative Housing Society is spread over two plots measuring 674 square metres and 890.47 square metres, which are collectively valued at approximately Rs50.63 crore. 

Two separate gift deeds were signed on Nov 8, and a stamp duty of Rs50.65 lakh was paid for the registration of the deed.

The Bollywood megastar and his family lived in Prateeksha for many years at the beginning of his career. 

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He also owns two other bungalows in Juhu – Jalsa and Janak.

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Salman Khan’s torn shoes trigger gossip on social media

Salman Khan’s torn shoes trigger gossip on social media

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Salman Khan's torn shoes trigger gossip on social media

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan recently won hearts when he stepped out to attend ‘Farrey’ screening, where he was seen wearing a pair of torn, faded shoes. 

While Salman looked his usual dapper self in a dark shirt and a pair of formal pants, it was his shoes that caught everyone’s attention. 

One fan wrote, “New trend will start.” 

Another mentioned, “Well, those shoes might be comfortable for him !!” “He is Salman Khan. He doesn’t need to show off,” reacted yet another user on social media.

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Salman was attending the Farrey screening, where he had also invited a bunch of celebrities.

At the event, he also posed with his Tiger 3 co-star and close friend, Katrina Kaif. 

Katrina and Salman were last seen sharing screen space in the Maneesh Sharma directorial, Tiger 3. 

The film, despite receving mixed reviews from the critics, has done a great business for itself at the ticket counter.

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