Jungo Fujimoto will have turned 30 by the time the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil, but on Friday night he proved that he may yet become a key part of the Samurai Blue squad.
The 27-year-old was a key part of Japan's attack in their 3-1 win against Iceland in Osaka's Nagai Stadium, repeatedly pressuring goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson with powerful shots during the first half.
Then in the 53rd minute of play, Fujimoto broke through the Iceland back line to receive a through pass from Kengo Nakamura before skillfully chipping a shot over Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson to double Japan's lead and record his first international goal.
"I was able to see where the goalkeeper was going until the very end," Fujimoto told reporters after the match. "I'm glad I could score my first goal."
The player, who earned his eighth cap on Friday night, also described the emotions involved in wearing the number 10 shirt traditionally worn by Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa.
"I was surprised when I found out," Fujimoto admitted. "I'm glad I could play well [with such expectations.]"
Meanwhile, Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni celebrated his side's first match of 2012.
"It was the first game in 2012 and I wanted to start with a win," he said.
"Everybody showed a good performance today, although my players were physically not at 100 per cent. I hope that we can keep the momentum."