Since 1998, Japan has taken part in every Football World Cup. The Samurai Blue have advanced past the group stages twice, with their finest showing coming in 2002 when they won their group. They’ve also done well in the Asian Cup, winning four of the last six matches. As more and more Japanese players have recently joined European teams, football has grown in popularity in Japan.
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10. Yuji Nakazawa (17 goals / 1999-2010)
Nakazawa is a hero in Japan, one of only four football players to have played 100 games for their country outside of Japan. The 36-year-old was a tough defender who could score goals when needed.
Nakazawa has been a mainstay for Samurai Blue for a long time. He helped Yokohama win the league title in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, the first defender to win the J-MVP League award. He is third all-time with 593 J-League games. He scored 17 goals and has 110 caps for Japan, which ties him for sixth place.
9. Junichi Inamoto (5 goals / 2000-present)
Junichi Inamoto was the first Japanese player to play for Arsenal. He had bleached blonde hair and was one of the first Japanese players to play in Europe. His team was Arsenal, but he found it hard to live up to the high expectations set for him. He moved to Highbury in the summer of 2001 and was there when Arsene Wenger won the Double with Arsenal less than a year later. But Inamoto only played three times.
8. Shinji Okazaki (38 goals / 2008-present)
Okazaki is 28 years old, so he still has time to move up the scoring list for the Japanese national team. He is currently tight for third with Hiromi Hara, but he could pass Kazuyoshi Miura, who is in second place with 55 goals if he is chosen and is in good shape. Shinji Okazaki is a professional football player from Japan. He was born on April 16, 1986, and plays forward or attacking midfielder for the Belgian club Sint-Truiden. Internationally, he is the top goal scorer for the Japan national team right now, and with 50 goals, he is third in the team’s history.
7. Keisuke Honda (20 goals / 2008-present)
Before 2010, Japan hadn’t won a Football World Cup game away from home until Honda scored against Cameroon in Bloemfontein. After that, the aggressive midfielder scored against Denmark in the last group match, switched roles, and set up Okazaki’s goal. In three of Japan’s four games in that tournament, FIFA chose him as the Man of the Match. That’s made him the Japanese Player of the Year.
He usually plays as an attacking midfielder, but he can also play as a winger, a false nine, or a deep-lying playmaker. During the 2014–15 Serie A season, he often played as a right winger for Milan. He is known for being quick, creative, vital, and valuable on the field. He is also known for accurately bending free kicks, hitting hard from far away, dribbling well, and delivering set pieces.
6. Shunsuke Nakamura (24 goals / 2000-2010)
During his four years at Parkhead, Nakamura had a few standout games. However, he quickly proved that the teams were right to fight for him. He is still a fan favorite among Celtic fans. Before they moved to Scotland in 2005, they connected to several teams, such as Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
In his four years at the club, Nakamura made 166 appearances and helped the team win three Scottish Premier League titles, two League Cups, and one Scottish Cup. During the 2006-07 season, he was named Player of the Year by the Scottish Professional Footballers’ Association, the Scottish Football Writers’ Association, and the Scottish Football Association.
5. Yasuhito Endo (12 goals / 2002-present)
Unlike many of his foreign colleagues, Endo has never felt pressured to test himself abroad. The 34-year-old played for Yokohama Flugels and Kyoto Purple Sanga before joining Gamba Osaka in 2001. Since he joined Gamba, Endo has made the J-League Team of the Season ten times.
He played for Japan in three Football World Cups and three Confederations Cups since making his senior international debut in 2002. He got more than 150 caps, scored 15 goals, and became the Japanese male player with the most caps ever. He is also one of the few players who has played more than 1,100 games.
More first-team equals were hard to come by; nevertheless, he finished his Barcelona occupation, having been introduced only 13 times. Injury-hit invocations at Lazio, Real Betis, Numancia, and Gimnastic were disastrous to catch fire things – and he ended up opening his career in Holland with Go Into the future Eagles in 2012 at just 32. For more to know about Football World Cup Tickets, Click here.
4. Hidetoshi Nakata (11 goals / 1997-2006)
When Nakata gave up at age 29, it seemed like a massive waste of talent. After all, he had made a big impression in Italy. In 2002, he helped Parma beat Juventus to win the Coppa Italia; in 2001, he helped AS Roma win the Serie A championship.
Nakata started playing professionally in 1995. He played for Japan in three Football World Cups (1998, 2002, and 2006) and two Olympics (1996 and 2000). They won the Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year award in 1997 and 1998. In 2001, he won the Scudetto with Roma. In 2005, he gave one of Italy’s highest honors, the Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity, for helping the country’s reputation abroad. Nakata has also been interested in fashion. He often goes to runway shows and wears clothes made by designers.
At age 29, Nakata announced his retirement on July 3, 2006. He played for ten years, including seven seasons in Italy’s Serie A and one in England’s Premier League. In March 2004, Pelé put Nakata on his FIFA 100, a list of the best football players still alive. Nakata was the only Japanese player on the list and one of only two Asian players. The video game FIFA 18 added Nakata as an icon to the Ultimate Team in 2018.
3. Shinji Kagawa (17 goals / 2008-present)
Even though Kagawa is only 25, there is a good chance that when he retires, he will be known as Japan’s best football player ever. After Cerezo Osaka made a good impression, Borussia Dortmund bought him for less than £300,000 in 2010 and put him in the Bundesliga. In the end, he made that purchase price look like outright theft by helping Dortmund win the Bundesliga twice in his two seasons with the team.
2. Kazuyoshi Miura (55 goals / 1990-2000)
Miura, who was born in 1967 and is 47 years old, is still playing professional football, which is a surprise. He joined Yokohama FC in 2005 and is now the offensive coordinator for the team in the J-League Second Division. Genoa picked him up in 1994 because of how many goals in his earlier career. He was the first Japanese football player to ever play in Serie A. But he had trouble getting used to life in Europe. After a short time with Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia, he returned to his home country.
1. Kunishige Kamamoto (1964-1977)
Before the J-Creation League in 1993 and all the success and attention it brought, one-club guy Kamamoto was Japan’s first big star. Kamamoto, now 70, used goals a lot for his club and his country. During his 17 years with Yanmar Diesel, the center-forward scored more than 250 goals. It’s impressive that he only failed to get a return of 10 or more once every three seasons.
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