Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi has been to three World Cups but never expected to make a fourth.
The 34 year-old goalkeeper almost didn’t even watch on television as Japan coach Takeshi Okada named his squad of 23 for the 2010 World Cup on Monday.
The Jubilo Iwata shotstopper has 116 caps to his name as well as three World Cups and was named as the third-choice goalkeeper in South Africa, a decision that was especially surprising as the former Portsmouth man has not played in the J-League since breaking his leg last September.
"I was asleep, right until it was announced," Kawaguchi said according to the Daily Yomiuri. "My wife had to wake me up, and I couldn't believe my name was on TV. Honestly, I was shocked.
"I always wanted to return to the national team, even this year, but the injury took me out a lot longer than I expected. It's just been really tough. I had pretty much given up on today; I thought I was out, 99.9 percent."
The coach is delighted to have such an experienced back-up.
"Kawaguchi will have a difficult and unique responsibility as the third keeper," said Okada, "But he commands a lot of respect from the other players, especially the young ones, and has a presence on this team.
"We absolutely need him to get through this tournament. I keep track of all our injured players and Kawaguchi has recovered to a point where he's playing practice games. He's got his game back and I've been told he is good enough to play in the next Nabisco Cup game."