Japan is the most prolific Asian country for world football. Its national stars have toured the world and have been idols of the masses. All five major leagues are nurtured by Japanese players. From Keisuke Honda to Shinji Kagawa and the legendary Nakamura.
All of them share their great talent and their desire to succeed in Europe. They made the leap from a very young age to become professional footballers. They played in an international academy of big clubs in order to develop. Now, they belong to the collective imagination of every football fan.
Best Japanese players in history
It is not easy to climb the ranks of Japan’s greatest ever players. Japan has some great players who have led them to triumph in the Asian Cup and reach the knockout stages of the World Cups. Quite an achievement. Moreover, all of them have played in the best leagues in the world.
Spain, France, England, Italy and Germany have all enjoyed the talents of these Japanese players. All of them have earned the respect and love of the fans thanks to the great charisma the Japanese possess.
Japan’s historical footballers
Hidetoshi Nakata is one of the best Japanese players. He has 77 caps and played for Perugia, Parma, Roma, Bologna, Fiorentina and Bolton Wanderers. Shunsuke Nakamura is another of the greats. Reggina, Celtic and Espanyol were his European clubs.
Yasuhito Endo did not play in Europe, but he is one of the most capped Japanese players: 152 appearances. He was even the best Asian player in 2009. Another legend, Yuji Nakazawa, with more than 100 caps and an exotic spell at Atlético Mineiro, has the same record.
Japanese players with the best records
Not as charismatic, but with better numbers, there are other football legends in Japan. Kunishige Kamamoto is Japan’s top scorer with 75 goals. He is followed by other great players such as Kazuyoshi Miura and Hiromi Mara, with 55 and 38 goals respectively.
Other Japanese players with good records are also worth mentioning. Masami Ihara, who has 122 appearances for Japan. Also Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, who has 116 international appearances. All of them are now retired.
Current top Japanese players
Japan and their football are experiencing the best moment in their history. Their first World Cup appearance was in France in 1998 and since then, they have not missed a World Cup. The current runners-up in the Asian Cup are the benchmark for the whole continent for their level of national team, players and league.
Players in the big leagues
Many Japanese names spring to mind when looking at the big leagues. Takefusa Kubo of Real Madrid, Takumi Minamino of Liverpool and Kyogo Furuhashi of Celtic Glashow are all competing in Europe’s top leagues.
All of them compete in the elite of European football in the big leagues, as well as big name big league players such as Shinji Okazaki, who won the Premier League with Leicester City and currently plays for FC Cartagena in Spain. Atomu Tanaka is also on this list, competing in the UEFA Conference League with HJK Helsinki.
We must not forget big names such as Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda. Two of the best Japanese football players in history who complete their sporting careers in exotic places such as Mexico, India or Belgium.
Football academies in Spain
The vast majority of Japanese players who have succeeded in Europe arrived at a very young age. They all left their home country to make a name for themselves in football. They got it thanks to their work in international football academies such as the SIA Academy.
In these academies, skills are enhanced and opportunities are offered. The scouts hunt for future promises and there they start their progression. SIA Academy is an international school with extensive experience and quality to provide opportunities in Spanish football. This is the way they did it with talents such as Takashi Inui and Gaku Shibasaki.
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