Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda said on Wednesday he was planning to retire from football before Melbourne Victory offered him a contract earlier this month.
Honda, who retired from the Japan national side after the World Cup, claimed he didn’t think he would play on at all following Russia 2018.
"I was thinking to quit my career after the World Cup but lucky this club made me a great offer that's changed my career," said the Japanese talismanic player at his welcome press conference with the A-League side.
Victory announced Honda, who last season featured for Mexican side Pachuca, as their new marquee player last week in a deal reportedly worth 2.9 million Australian dollars (1.9 million euros).
Talks with Muscat prove crucial
According to the 32-year-old, a meeting with Victory coach Kevin Muscat convinced him to prolong his playing career for at least one year.
"I changed my mind after I spoke to Kevin directly. He said to me he really wants to succeed as a club... so he's an ambitious person and I’m an ambitious person as well, so I was inspired by him. That was a big meeting for me.
"I'm excited. I'm so glad I can try a new challenge in my career."
Muscat said the pair spoke about the club's ambitions in the Asian Champions League.
"It gives Keisuke an opportunity for the first time, going back to Japan and playing against a club side in Japan," he said. "He's played many internationals there and has been away from Japan for a number of years."
The 2018-2019 A-League season is set to begin in October, with Victory hosting Melbourne City at the Etihad Stadium on 20 October.
Honda: Cambodia's new manager
Days after Honda's signing was confirmed by the Australian side, it was revealed that the Japanese would also serve as the new general manager of Cambodia's national team.
On Sunday, Honda was unveiled in his new role at a media conference in Phnom Penh, signing a two-year contract without pay.
Melbourne Victory were quick to clarify that the Japanese would not miss A-League matches, as he would be available for Cambodia only when the competition paused for Fifa-sanctioned international dates.
"I would like to help the Cambodian team to have one clear style of playing and promote the country to the outside world," Honda said in Phnom Penh.
I’m in Cambodia. Cambodia is one of a great country in Asia. I will visit local places. pic.twitter.com/ZR8FILyjxn— KeisukeHonda(本田圭佑) (@kskgroup2017) 12 August 2018
He also said he had been approached by the Football Federation of Cambodia four months ago, and that his job as coach will have no impact on his role at Victory.
"It was about four months ago I spoke to the Cambodian Association. I asked them may I become manager of the national team at the same time I am player and they said yes," Honda explained.
"I asked them weird questions but that is me ... I always try anything, that’s why it happened.
"Lucky this club understands my situation and respects my activities."