Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Ono retired today (3/12) from the sport at the age of 44, ending a historic career that saw him become the first player from his country to win a European trophy.
Ono, a legend in Japan, was part of the Feyenoord team that beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2002 UEFA Cup final, the culmination of a successful four-year spell with the Dutch club.
The attacking midfielder, experienced on both feet, was part of the pioneering wave of Japanese players who made the journey to Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s, alongside Hidetoshi Nakata and Kazuyoshi Miura.
Nicknamed “The Genius”, Ono made 56 appearances for the Blue Samurai, with whom he made his debut at the age of 18 and participated in three World Cups.
Notable was the 2002 hosting by his country (along with South Korea), when Ono played in all the matches, including the round of 16 in which the Japanese national team was defeated by Turkey.
Ono was named Asian Player of the Year in 2000. He has also played for clubs in Germany (Hamburg) and Australia, winning the local championship with Western Sydney Wanderers in 2013.
He has also won the J-League and the Asian Champions League with Urawa Red Diamonds, as well as the 2000 Asian Cup of Nations with Japan.
Ono played the last game of his career today for Hokkaido Consandole Sapporo, which was defeated at home (0-2) by Urawa in the league (J1-League).
The Sapporo coach started him and replaced him in the 22nd minute with Sarachat, in order to reap the (warm and prolonged) applause of the stands.
Source: Sport Fm
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