Former Japan national team captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto retires at 34

Following an impressive 17-year career that saw him captain the Samurai Blue in three major competitions, the defender hopes to earn a coaching license in Europe
Vissel Kobe centre-back Tsuneyasu Miyamoto confirmed his retirement in a press conference on Monday afternoon in Kobe, Japan.

The announcement concluded a 17-year career for the 34-year-old, the majority of which was spent at home-town club Gamba Osaka. Miyamoto made his professional debut for the side in 1995, eventually becoming a regular starter and gaining the attention of European teams.

Miyamoto made his first international appearance for Japan in 2000, the same year he earned the captain's armband for Gamba. He went on to make 71 international appearances and led the Samurai Blue in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups as well as the 2004 Asian Cup. Miyamoto also captained Gamba during their 2005 J-League championship season.

After the Japanese national team's transition to manager Ivica Osim heralded a changing of the guard, Miyamoto joined Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg. He was unable to make an impact in three seasons after suffering a tendon injury that required surgery in 2008.

Miyamoto returned to Japan in 2009, joining Vissel but only making six appearances in 2010 and four this year. He chose to retire despite offers from Vissel and other clubs, including Thailand champions Buriram PEA.

"The time has come for me to walk off the pitch for good," Miyamoto wrote on his official home page in a message to supporters.

"From now on I'll continue to be involved in the football world as I approach the next stage of my career."

Miyamoto will enroll in the 2012 Fifa Masters course, a ten-month post-graduate programme. The fluent English-speaker stated during Monday's announcement that he intends on earning a coaching license after completing the course in 2013.