Japan’s Honda says Brazilian fans attracted him to Botafogo

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Japanese star Keisuke Honda said the passion of Brazilian fans persuaded him to sign with Botafogo among other attractive offers from European and Asian clubs.

His decision received early vindication when he was met by about 1,000 chanting fans at the airport in Rio de Janeiro.

“At the airport, I have never seen that in my life,” Honda said on Saturday. “The passion of the people is what made me decide to play here.”

Thousands of more fans were on hand at Botafogo’s Nilton Santos Stadium for the midfielder’s introduction.

The 33-year-old Honda has been signed to the end of this year. He’s come from Vitesse in the Netherlands. He’s also played for CSKA Moscow, AC Milan, and Mexico’s Pachuca.

Honda is one of Japan’s most successful players, having played in three World Cups. He scored 37 goals in 98 matches for the national team.

Botafogo has struggled in recent seasons, often finishing near the bottom of the Brazilian league.