Japanese midfielder Nakata to retire

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:35 IST

Japanese international midfielder and national superstar Hidetoshi Nakata said on Monday that he will retire from professional soccer.

Japanese midfielder Nakata to retire

Tokyo:

Japanese international midfielder and national superstar Hidetoshi Nakata said on Monday that he will retire from professional soccer after a decade on the pitch in Japan, Italy and England. "I decided half a year ago that I would retire from the world of professional soccer after the World Cup in Germany," Nakata said in comments posted on Monday on his official Web site. "I will never again stand on the pitch as a professional player. But I won't stop playing the game," he said. Lackluster performance The 29-year-old star's announcement followed Japan's disastrous run in Germany, where Nakata made his third World Cup appearance. The Japanese side crashed out after a lackluster performance against Australia, Croatia and defending champions Brazil in the group round. "I felt the Japanese team went into the tournament with great potential," Nakata said. "But we didn't know how to put our talents out there, 100 per cent." Key playmaker Twice voted Asia's player of the year, Nakata gained superstar status in Japan as a key playmaker for the national team, scoring 11 goals in 77 appearances. His flashy attire and cool demeanor also made him a media darling. Nakata joined English club Bolton in August last year from seven years in Italy's Series A, where he played with Roma, Parma, Bologna and Fiorentina. He was the first Japanese football player to play for a major European team. Bolton manager Sam Allardyce said Nakata's resignation didn't come as a surprise. Nakata scored one goal in 21 league games at the English club, failing to secure a regular place on the first team. "(Nakata) has had the time to think about his future and has decided that the best outcome is for him to hang up his boots," Allardyce was quoted as saying on the English team's Web site. "He's had a glittering career and has achieved plenty in the domestic game. He will be remembered as the catalyst of Asian and Japanese football." Nakata's first stint was with Japanese team Bellmare Hiratsuka in 1995-1998. Last year, he was honored with one of Italy's highest awards for helping to promote Italy's image overseas. (AP)

Topics : Football Japan
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