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Shunsuke Nakamura's technique is well known all over the world and gave him a chance to play in La Liga last summer. He has a golden left foot which comes into action on set pieces.
He is not just a talented player. His indefatigable spirit has carried him over a number of obstacles. He wasn’t able to become a member of Yokohama Marinos’ youth team because he was too short and his physical strength was lacking. Consequently, he tried to make his own style, using his brain as well as lots of individual training.
He led Yokohama to the J-league title and in 2000, he was named the J-league’s Most Valuable Player.
Despite such success, he was omitted from the 2002 World Cup squad by Philippe Troussier. Nakamura wanted to play in the trequartista position but the Frenchman gave him a role as left wing back in 3-5-2 formation. As a result, he was left out of the squad for the tournament held in his country. Determined to improve, he went to Italy and Reggina.
He had tough times in Italy too. Calcio demanded physical strength as much as skill but this made him tougher. At Celtic, his boss Gordon Strachan recognised his ability so Nakamura enjoyed a good four seasons in Scotland and the Champions League.
Already a player who loved to create for others, he learned the importance of scoring himself. Of course we can still see his special free-kicks.
His problems matured him and even though he came back to Japan with some disappointment, that is just something else that will make him stronger as he aims to show in South Africa.
Did you know?
He was born on the day of the third place game between Brazil and Italy at the 1978 World Cup.
J-league MVP: 2000
J-league best eleven: 1999, 2000
AFC Asia Cup China 2004 best eleven
AFC Asia Cup China 2004 MVP
Scottish PFA Player of the Year: 2007
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