By Hiroyuki Okada / Yomiuri Shimbun SportswriterOSAKA — When Japan’s national soccer team played Haiti in a Kirin Challenge Cup match last month, they faced an opposing player who speaks the Kansai dialect of Japanese and aspires to join the Samurai Blue in the future.
Zachary Herivaux, 21, was born in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, and has Japanese citizenship. “I have a lot of confidence in my abilities. Without that, I can’t do anything on the pitch,” Herivaux said in Japanese after the Oct. 10 match that ended in a 3-3 draw.
Hervivaux was born to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, and moved to Boston when he was 3. He usually speaks to his mother in Japanese.
When he was a high school student, Herivaux temporarily returned to Japan, where he trained with the soccer team for Osaka Toin High School.
He currently plays in Major League Soccer, the United States’ main professional soccer league.
Under FIFA rules, once a player has played in an official match for a country’s national team, that player cannot represent other countries’ national teams.
Herivaux has triple citizenship with Haiti, the United States and Japan and previously played for a U.S. age-restricted national team. He has also declined offers to join Haiti’s national team as he plans on joining Japan’s national team in the future.
The young midfielder opted to play for Haiti in the recent match against Japan since it was a friendly, and therefore not subject to the FIFA rule on committing to a national team.
Herivaux, who idolizes Keisuke Honda of Mexican club Pachuca, has supported the Japanese national team since childhood.
He played the full 90 minutes as a defensive midfielder in the Oct. 10 match, competing fiercely with Shu Kurata of Gamba Osaka and Yuki Kobayashi of Dutch club Heerenveen.
Though his passing and positioning lacked finesse, he displayed impressive agility and physicality.
Before the match, Herivaux said, “Japan’s a great team so beating them would show I have what it takes [to play for the Japanese national team].”