Caltex Socceroos great inspiring Langerak's Japanese journey
Mitch Langerak might have anticipated a partial release in pressure upon leaving the cauldron of European football in January but, in Japan, he has lofty expectations to meet.
The eight-cap Caltex Socceroo has spent the past eight months establishing himself as Nagoya Grampus' undisputed first-choice goalkeeper, a difficult enough task without having to emulate a famous countryman.
He is, after all, the first Australian to represent the club since Josh Kennedy, the adored Golden Generation member who built a reputation to match his stature across five and a half seasons in the J.League.
MORE THAN PACE: Mabil on how Europe has changed him
Kennedy netted 64 competitive goals for Nagoya including 17 in their last title triumph in 2010.
"They love him there. He's a big star," Langerak told socceroos.com.au.
"He came to visit a few months ago and the fans went crazy for him.
"There were so many Australian flags, people still cheering his name.
"He had a very successful time at Nagoya Grampus. He did a lot of good things.
"In Japan they really, really love him and they know his qualities as a footballer.
"If I can do half as well as he has in Nagoya then I'll be very happy."
Langerak has been made to feel more at home by the presence of several other Australians in what is widely regarded as Asia's strongest competition, although the Emerald-born 30-year-old admits it has been a "massive change" from his more recent spells in Germany and Spain.
Nailing down a starting XI spot has helped with acclimatisation.
So long an understudy at Borussia Dortmund, Langerak has started every one of Nagoya's 24 league fixtures to date, including an ongoing seven-game winning run that has steered the club clear of danger.
"It's been a big culture shock, but good for me personally and professionally," he said.
"I'm enjoying living there, I'm enjoying playing there. The league is very strong.
"I think you could ask a lot of the boys who have played in Japan just how strong it actually is.
"It's a challenge every week playing against really good players and really good opponents.
"I think Australians are doing quite well all over the world and in Japan the clubs hold the players in high regard. Mitch Duke [at Shimizu S-Pulse] and Milos [Degenek] when he was there in Yokohama made good names for themselves.
"I've enjoyed it so far and I'm hoping I can build on my form and build on the way the club is going."
His efforts have not gone unnoticed by national team boss Graham Arnold, who recalled the ex-Melbourne Victory man for this week's training camp in Turkey.
ABOVE AND BEYOND: Ryan on Arnold's ability with young players
Langerak, part of the triumphant AFC Asian Cup squad in 2015, still has some way to go to reach Kennedy's 36 caps for the Caltex Socceroos, but his enthusiasm for the new era is clear.
"I think it's exciting for all the boys involved," he said.
"Personally it's always an honour and a privilege whenever I get the call to join the team.
"I'm very happy to be here. I'm feeling good, feeling fresh."
Opposition confirmed: Socceroos take on Uzbekistan in Round of 16
Following their 3-2 win over Syria in Group B, the Socceroos have earned themselves a Round of 16 clash against Uzbekistan in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™. The meeting was confirmed when Uzbekistan fell 2-1 to Japan in their Group F encounter, putting the White Wolves in second
Spanish legend Villa gives Mabil stunner nod of approval
Awer Mabil is turning heads around the footballing world right now - and one of the sports biggest names has taken notice. Mabil marked his rise to prominence with a sensational opening goal in the Socceroos' 3-2 triumph over Syria earlier this morning, an effort so striking i
LIVE BLOG: Socceroos discover Round of 16 opponent, Mabil insists there's more still in the tank
The Socceroos turn their attention to their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Round of 16 clash against Uzbekistan which takes place on Tuesday morning AEDT. Rene Muelensteen spoke from camp, praising the players' ability to implement Graham Arnold's philosophy and create a heap of chan
Social media reacts to the Socceroos' last-gasp victory over Syria
The Socceroos booked a spot in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ knockout stages on Wednesday morning (AEDT) following a dramatic 3-2 victory over Syria, with the thrilling contest in Al Ain providing plenty of talking points. Stunning strikes from Awer Mabil and Tom Rogic, plus a s