Shunsuke Nakamura of Yokohama FC takes a free kick during a J-League second division game against Zweigen Kanazawa in Yokohama on Oct. 16, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Former Japan and Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura, currently at Yokohama FC in the J-League second division, is set to retire at the end of the season, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

The 44-year-old midfielder, known for his deadly set-piece deliveries with his left foot, played 98 games for Japan, scoring 24 goals, and was part of the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads.

The only player to win the J-League MVP twice, Nakamura has scored 73 goals over 408 games in J1. His record 24 goals from free kicks are the most in the league’s history.

After making his debut with Yokohama Marinos in 1997, Nakamura quickly became a popular name in J-League and featured regularly for Japan but was a shock omission by the then Japan manager Philippe Troussier ahead of the home World Cup in 2002.

Nakamura joined Reggina that summer and spent three seasons in Italy’s Serie A before signing for Scottish giants Celtic.


Shunsuke Nakamura. (Photo courtesy of J-League)(Kyodo)

Blessed with vision and technique, Nakamura became a fan favorite in Glasgow where he won domestic titles and shone in the Champions League during his four-year spell.

One of Nakamura’s career highlights came in 2006 when he scored two free kicks in the Champions League group stage against Manchester United, one at Old Trafford and another at Celtic Park.

While his goal did not prevent Celtic from losing 3-2 in the away tie, a breathtaking strike from distance proved crucial in the home game as they won 1-0.

Following a half-year stint at Espanyol in Spain’s La Liga, Nakamura returned to Marinos in 2010 before joining Jubilo Iwata in 2017.

Nakamura has been with Yokohama FC since 2019 but injuries have limited his game time in recent years.

He has played a total of 46 minutes in five games this season in J2, making his first appearance in five months on Sunday when the side was promoted to J1.

Nakamura has voiced his desire to take up a coaching role in the future.

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