Wataru Endo is not a man of many words, but one of big performances. The 30-year-old wore the red hoop for four years, giving his all for the club game after game and leading the team out onto the pitch as captain from 2021/22 onwards. He was VfB’s linchpin in midfield and led by example through his dedication, commitment and endurance. The VfB hierarchy valued his qualities: team bodyguard, leader, anchor and warrior are all terms they would come to associate with Wataru Endo.
After helping the club achieve promotion from Bundesliga 2 to the top flight in his debut season in Bad Canstatt, Endo hardly missed a league game for VfB. As well as featuring in 99 of a possible 102 Bundesliga matches – 33 each season – over the past three campaigns, the Japan international also played 21 games in the second tier, 11 in the DFB Cup and two in the Bundesliga promotion/relegation play-off at the end of last term. Endo has also played more minutes (8,783) than any other midfielder in the German top flight since his debut in September 2020, according to data specialists Opta.
Aided by a tireless playing style, Endo blossomed into one of the Bundesliga’s best tacklers and hardest-working players. According to the DFL, he won more challenges than any other player in 2020/21 (476) and 2021/22 (448) before coming fourth in that category in 2022/23 (439). No other Bundesliga midfielder has won more duels (1,274) or registered more ball recoveries (706) since his debut, while Endo also recorded the second-most tackles (207; source: Opta) in that period. He covered between 350 and 370 kilometres each season, which placed him among the top ten every campaign.
After four years of unwavering commitment in a VfB shirt, Wataru has now joined Liverpool in the Premier League. VfB would like to thank their former captain for every appearance during his time at the club, for his leadership qualities on and off the pitch, and for every goal he scored, and wish him all the best on his new adventure!