Why Wataru Endo wears a gumshield when playing for Liverpool

Wataru Endo has explained exactly why he wears a gumshield when playing for Liverpool and Japan. It's become a defining feature.

Wataru Endo joined Liverpool in the summer and instantly fans will have recognised something unique about him. The Japanese international wears a gumshield during games - and it pretty much always the only player on the pitch doing so.

Now, Endo isn't the first footballer to ever do this but it's certainly something seen more in rugby than football. Football has a lot less contact, after all.

So why does Endo wear one? He explained it in an interview with Sky Sports - and has multiple reasons for it now.

“When I was in Germany I met a Japanese dentist; he told me it’s a good mouthpiece, it makes something different about performance,” said Endo.

“Now I just wear it to protect my teeth and also it looks like a fighter, so when I go into the pitch I just put the mouthpiece on and it’s like game mode.”

Initially, then, Endo got a recommendation from a dentist - something to protect him and even improve the way he plays. Perhaps that's as simple as giving him a bit more confidence going into challenges.

He goes on to explain that it does certainly bring confidence. It's now a ritual, something to get him into the right mind space for a game. And it plainly works - Endo has consistently achieved at every level he's played at.

Endo is an interesting person as a whole. He's contributed to a book this season, too - a self-help book that pulls from his career.

The midfielder also made the move to European football relatively late. What didn't take long, though, was Endo finding his feet once he was there - he worked his way up to become captain at Stuttgart despite not speaking German.

Endo isn't the most conventional footballer in the world, then, but he's a successful one. Now he's starting to show that at Liverpool.

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