Free kick whiz Nakamura to cap long career

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shunsuke Nakamura

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Shunsuke Nakamura, the former national team member known as a master of free kicks thanks to his precise left-foot delivery, will retire at the end of this season, informed sources said Monday.

Although the 44-year-old veteran midfielder of Yokohama FC had already decided to hang up his boots, he made up his mind on the timing of his retirement when his team won promotion back to J.League’s J1 on Sunday after being relegated to the second-tier J2 a year ago, according to the sources.

A native of Kanagawa Prefecture, Nakamura kicked off his pro career with Yokohama Marinos (now F. Marinos) in 1997. He moved to Italian club Reggina in 2002.

In 2005, Nakamura joined Scottish club Celtic, where he played brilliantly and paved the way for other Japanese players currently playing for the club. During his time at Celtic, Nakamura became the first Asian player to win the player of the year award in the Scottish league.

Nakamura joined Spanish club Espanyol in 2009 and returned to Marinos the following year. In 2013, he became the first player ever to win the J.League’s MVP award a second time.

After a few years with Jubilo Iwata, Nakamura joined Yokohama FC in 2019. Injuries and other factors, however, limited his appearances over the past few years, with his last goal coming in 2019.

In 408 J.League matches, Nakamura scored 73 goals. He has 98 caps and 24 goals for Japan’s national team, and appeared at two World Cups.