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The Japanese legendary players that J.LEAGUE has produced

10:42 GMT+3 21/12/2017
J League Japanese legends
J.League has managed to produce a few wonderful players players for the country over the years...

  • Junichi Inamoto

    #1 Junichi Inamoto

    He was born on the 18th September 1979 in Kagoshima prefecture.  He started to play football in Osaka where he moved to in his childhood, and signed up for Gamba Osaka Academy. He was selected for the youth team as a defensive midfielder because of excellence on long kicks and dynamic playing style. Inamoto made a debut in the J league at the age of 17 (the youngest player at that time). He proved his talent at the international stage, such as winning the 2nd place for FIFA World Youth (currently U-20 World Cup) and being qualified as best eight in the Sydney Olympics. After he had played overseas for nine years, he came back to the J league through Kawasaki Frontale, in 2010. Inamoto made an appearance in 82 games for the Japanese national team, and has experienced the World Cup three times. In 2015, Inamoto joined Consadole Sapporo. At 38, he still plays football and leads the team regardless of his age.

  • Atsuto Uchida

    #2 Atsuto Uchida

    Uchida was born on the 27th March. 1988, in Shizuoka prefecture.  He was paid attention to as a sprinting right back since he played for Shimizu Higashi High School. Among numerous offers, he finally chose Kashima Antlers. Manager Paulo Autuori highly appreciated his talent and selected him as a starting member for the opening game in 2006. Kashima had successively won the title of the J league and Uchida remained a regular member for the club. He was also named as the J league best eleven for 2 years in a row.  After 2010, his battlefield was in Germany. He played for top clubs in the European Champions league. He has played for the Japan national team at the World Cup twice and received recognition as one of the best right backs in J League's history.

  • Yasuhito Endo - Gamba Osaka

    #3 Yasuhito Endo

    Endo was born on 28th January in Kagoshima prefecture. He was selected for the U-18 Japan national team when he was at Kagoshima Jitsugyo High School. After the graduation, he signed for Yokohama Flugels and played in the opening game as a starting member. Just before the club shut down, he was transferred to Kyoto Purple Sanga (currently Kyoto Sanga F.C) in 1999, and moved into Gamba Osaka in 2001.  As a stunning game maker, he contributed to make a golden age for the club.  In 2005, he won the first J league title, and in 2008, won the AFC Champions league. He also received the AFC best player award of the year in 2009. Endo contributed to win the three consecutive titles, which was the first in the history of the club. He was named as a J league MVP which was also the first time for him. His appearance in 152 games for the Japan national team makes him the most capped player in history and has experienced the World Cup three times.
  • Shinji Okazaki

    #4 Shinji Okazaki

    Okazaki was born on the 16th of April in Hyogo prefecture. He moved from Takigawa Daini High School to Shimizu S-Pulse in 2005. There were not many chances to play in games. He made just a single appearance in his first year and played seven times in the second year. However, from the third year, he mainly played as a midfielder. His performances were highly recognized and he was selected for the Japan national team for the Beijing Olympics. Afterwards, he became an ace forward, which established his fame and was named as one of the J League's best eleven in 2009. Okazaki scored 42 goals, which caught VfB Stuttgart’s eyes. After singing for VfB Stuttgart, he moved to Mainz, and in 2005, was transferred to Leicester City of the Premier League.  Okazaki contributed to the league title in 2015-2016. Since 2008, he has played for the Japan national team and has recorded 50 goals, which is the 3rd highest in history (recorded in December 2017). 

  • Shinji Ono

    #5 Shinji Ono

    Ono was born on the 27th of September,1979, in Shizuoka prefecture. He was known as a “genius” since he was small, and played as a main player for the youth and senior Japan National Team. Ono signed for Urawa Reds after graduating from Shimizu Commercial High School, and played at the World Cup held in France in 1998 at the age of 18. He recorded 9 goals in the J league, which led him receiving the new player award and the J league best eleven award.  In the following year, Ono captained the FIFA World Youth (currently U-20 World Cup) and led the team to win second place. In 2001, he moved to Feyenoord in search for a new challenge and contributed towards the title of the UEFA Cup. Since 2006, he moved to several clubs, such as Urawa Reds, Bochum, Shimizu S-Pulse, Western Sydney Wanderers, Consadole Sapporo, and others. The 38 years old is still a star player with abundance of creativity. 

  • Shinji Kagawa

    #6 Shinji Kagawa

    Kagawa was born on the 17th of March in 1989 in Hyogo prefecture. He received an offer from Cerezo Osaka when he was in the second year of high school and belonged to GC Miyagi Barcelona. He signed a professional contract with Cerezo Osaka. In the second year at the club, he became a regular player and made an appearance in 35 games of the J2 league. Meanwhile, he scored 5 goals.  Kagawa was immediately selected for the U-20 Japan National team and for the Beijing Olympicss. In 2009, he scored 27 goals in the J 2 league and became the highest scorer of the year. In July 2010, he was transferred to Dortmund where he scored 8 goals in 17 games, which is the first half of the league season. The goals helped the team to coast through the league in the rest of the season even though he suffered from injury. Kagawa moved to Manchester United in 2012 and came back to Dortmund in 2014.
  • Marcus Tulio Tanaka

    #7 Tanaka Marcus Tulio

    Tanaka was born on the 24th April 1981 in Brazil. He started playing football in Brazil where he grew up. When he was a high school student, he was scouted and transferred to Shibuya Makuhari High School in Japan. After graduation, he signed for Sanfrecce Hiroshima and moved to Mito HollyHOck on-loan. His talent bloomed here and he acquired Japanese nationality to participate in the Athens Olympicss. In 2004, he transferred to Urawa Reds and contributed to the title race of the league cup as a centre of defenders.  Tanaka received MVP award of the league and in 2007, he led the team to win the title of the AFC Champions League and  3rd place of the Club World Cup. In 2010, he played at the World Cup held in South Africa. After moving to Nagoya Grampus, Tanaka contributed to the victory of the league cup. Tanaka parted with the club in 2016, however, he resigned for Nagoya Grampus in the summer. In 2017, he played at Kyoto Sanga F.C.
  • Yuji Nakazawa

    #8 Yuji Nakazawa

    Nakazawa was born on the 25th of February in 1978 in Saitama prefecture. He was not well-known when he was playing football for his home county. After graduation from high school, he left for Brazil to improve his skills. After coming back to Japan, he joined Verdy Kawasaki (currently Tokyo Verdy) as a trainee in 1998. In the following year, he made a professional contract with the club. In 1999, Nakazawa played as a regular player and was named as the J league best new player of the year.  He played at Yokohama F Marinos for 16 years after he was transferred there in 2002. He contributed to the second straight victory of the J league since 2003. Along with this, he played a central role of the National team as an ace centre back. The 110 games that he was capped for is the fifth place on the all-time game appearance list. He has also appeared in 550 games in total up to the 2017 season of the J league. Nakazawa was selected as one of the J league's best eleven. The 39 year old's displays are top-notch in the Japanese League. 

  • Hidetoshi Nakata

    #9 Hidetoshi Nakata

    Nakata was born on the 22nd January in 1977 in Yamanashi prefecture. He was selected for the Japan National Youth team (U-15, U-17, U-20 and U-23). When he was at Nirasaki High School, he received offers from 11 J league clubs. Among them, Nakata chose Bellmare Hiratsuka (currently Shonan Bellmare) and began his professional career in 1995. From the first year, he played as a regular player and helped the club to be a powerful team as much as they compete for the title. In 1996, Nakata played in the Atlanta Olympics, and was selected for the Japan national team at the age of 20. He was a key player of the Japanese side in the 1998 World Cup held in France. In 1998, he moved to one of the Italian clubs, Perugia and won the league title at Roma in 2001. Afterwards, he played for Parma, Bologna, Fiorentina, and Bolton Wanderers. Shortly after he was capped the 2006 world cup in Germany, he decided to retire at the age of 29. It was the third World Cup for him. 

  • Yuto Nagatomo

    #10 Yuto Nagatomo

    Nagatomo was born on the 12th September 1986 in Ehime prefecture. He played for Higashi Fukuoka High School, which is a prestigious school for football, and belonged to Meiji University ‘s club. When he was a student, he did not stand out. There is an episode during his time at the university, where he was not a regular player which resulted in him playing a drum for cheering the team, instead of playing football. However, during his junior year of college, his position was converted from a midfielder to a side back in a practice match. Then his impressive performance caught FC Tokyo manager’s attention, which brought his professional career. His debut was made in 2007, and he was selected for the Japan national team in 2008, and played in the Beijing Olympics. His performance was highly recognized which led him to participate in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa. In 2010, he was transferred to an Italian club, Cesena, and in January 2011, Internazionale signed him on loan. He is one of the greatest side backs in Japan, and has made over 100 appearances as a player for the Japan national team, which earned him global recognition.

  • Shunsuke Nakamura

    #11 Shunsuke Nakamura

    Nakamura was born on the 24th June 1978 in Kanagawa prefecture. He attracted attention from locals since he was a child, and joined the academy of Yokohama Marinos (currently Yokohama F. Marinos). However, he could not promote to the youth team and decided to go to Tokogakuen High School where his ability was presented. Nakamura was in the limelight as a commander of Japanese high schools.  In 1997, after graduation, he signed with Yokohama Marinos. In 1999, he was given the No 10 shirt, and received the J league best eleven award. In 2000, at age 22, he was named as the J league MVP of the year. In 2002, he played for Reggina in Italy, and for Celtic in 2005, and capped at the 2006 World Cup in Germany as No 10. In 2009, he moved to a Spanish club, Espanyol, and came back to Yokohama F. Marinos. In 2013, Nakamura received the second J league MVP award. Since 2017, he has played for Jubilo Iwata.            

  • Masashi Nakayama

    #12 Masashi Nakayama

    He was born on the 23rd September 1967 in Shizuoka prefecture. He attended Fujieda Higashi High School and Tsukuba University before he joined Yamaha Motors in 1990. He helped the national side in a central role for the 1994 World Cup held in USA. After Jubilo Iwata were promoted to the J league, he played for the team as a key player. Before the 1998 World Cup held in France, he achieved hat tricks in four consecutive games of the J 1, which made him a record-holder in the Guinness book of the World Records at that time. Nakayama played for the strongest team as a play maker and contributed to the victory of AFC Asian Cup qualification match (currently AFC Champions League). During the spell of Jubilo Iwata, he won 10 titles. The striker became the J league best scorer twice and received MVP award once. During the spell of Consadole Sapporo, he announced his retirement in 2012. Despite that fact, he started to play for Azul Claro Numazu in 2015.

  • Makoto Hasebe

    #13 Makoto Hasebe

    Hasebe was born on the 18th January 1984 in Shizuoka. He graduated from Fujieda Higashi High School before joining Urawa Reds in 2002. In the second year, his appearances gradually increased. In 2004, the third year, he played as a defensive midfielder and was selected as one of the J league best eleven. He contributed to two consecutive victories in the Emperor Cup since 2005, and the team achieved the first win of the J league in the 2006 season. Hasebe was a key player and moved to a German club, Wolfsburg in 2007. He won the Bundesliga title in the 2008-2009 season, which was his second year. The midfielder also plays as a centre back and a side back in Germany. Numerous managers have credited him with good understanding of tactics and flexibility.  Hasebe has captained the Japan national team since the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.

  • Keisuke Honda

    #14 Keisuke Honda

    Honda was born on the 13th June 1986 in Osaka. He belonged to the junior youth team at Gamba Osaka, but was not able to be promoted to the youth team. He decided to go to Seiryo High School where he attracted attention because of his impressive performances. In 2005, he began his professional career with Nagoya Grampus. During a three-year deal, he became a regular player and transferred to a Dutch club, VVV-Venlo in 2008. In 2010, Honda moved to the Russian side CSKA Moscow and transferred to an Italian club, Inter Milan, in 2013.  He was given the No 10 shirt during the spell at Milan, and played in the “Japanese Milan derby game” against Internazionale, which Yuto Nagatomo belonged to. He played in the team as an ace player in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa and scored a goal in the 2014 World Cup hosted by Brazil. Since 2017, he has played for a Mexican club, Pachuca.   

  • Kazuyoshi Miura - Verdy Kawasaki vs Yokohama Marinos - J.League

    #15 Kazuyoshi Miura

    Miura was born on the 26th February 1967 in Shizuoka. He left the Shizuoka Gakuen High School after less than a year and travelled to Brazil to learn football.  He became an outstanding player in Brazil when he belonged to Santos. After coming back to Japan in 1990, he joined Yomiuri FC (currently Tokyo Verdy). In 1993 which was when the J league started, he won the title of the J league and also received the MVP award. In 1994, he moved to an Italian club, Genoa, to become a first Japanese player in the Serie A. afterwards, Miura transferred to numerous clubs, such as Tokyo Verdy, Zagreb, Kyoto Purple Sanga, Vissel Kobe, Yokohama FC, Sydney FC. He still plays for Yokohama FC in his 50s. Miura made 89 appearances for the Japan national team and score 55 goals, which is the 2nd highest scorer in history. He is a footballer that Japan is proud of.