Japan’s ‘Genius’ Shinji Ono Calls It Quits at 44

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Consadole Sapporo’s Shinji Ono takes a free kick during the final game of his career on Sunday in J.League action against the Urawa Reds.

SAPPORO (AFP-Jiji) — Japanese great Shinji Ono retired at 44 on Sunday, ending a career that saw him become the first player from his country to win a European club trophy.

Ono was part of the Feyenoord team that beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2002 UEFA Cup final during a successful four-year stint with the Dutch club.

The attacking midfielder was part of a pioneering wave of Japanese players moving to Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s, along with Hidetoshi Nakata and Kazuyoshi Miura.

Nicknamed “Genius,” Ono made his international debut as an 18-year-old and played for Japan at the 1998 World Cup in France two months later. He played at three World Cups and won 56 caps, scoring six international goals.

Ono was named Asian player of the year in 2000 and also had stints with clubs in Germany and Australia, winning the A-League Premiership with Western Sydney Wanderers in 2013.