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Updated on April 17th 2023, 8:21:29 am

Top 10 greatest Japanese Football players of all time

In this article, take a look at the top 10 greatest Japanese football players of all time. In recent years, Japanese footballers have joined European clubs.

In recent years, Japanese footballers have joined European clubs. This means that Japan as a country is very serious about nurturing sportsmen, especially in football. The inclusion of Japanese players in the European clubs has made the game grow increasingly popular throughout the country. Also, they will be seen in action in FIFA world cup 2022.

Let's see the top 10 best Japanese football players of all time.

1. Takumi Minamino

Takumi Minamino was born on 16 January 1995. He is a Japanese professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for Ligue 1 club Monaco and the Japan national team. Minamino began his club career at League Division 1 club Cerezo Osaka in 2012. In his first season, Minamino was named League Rookie of the Year. In 2014 he moved to the Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg with whom he spent four successful seasons. Following impressive displays, for the club, he joined Liverpool on 1 January 2020. Minamino made his senior international debut for Japan in 2015. Minamino starred in the team that reached the final of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

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2. Yuki Soma

Yuki Soma was born on 25 February 1997. He is a Japanese soccer player who plays as a striker for Nagoya Grampus and the Japan national team. He played for two teams in his youth career which were; Fuda SC and Mitsubishi Yowa Chofu. In his senior career, Yuki represented two teams; Nagoya Grampus and Kashima Antlers where he is currently on loan. Yuki Soma has made a total of 61 appearances bagging seven goals for the clubs he has played for.

3. Maya Yoshida

Maya Yoshida was born in 1988 on August 24th. He is a Japanese footballer who plays as a center-back for Bundesliga club Schalke 04 and he is also the captain of the Japan national team. In his youth career, Maya played for Nagoya Grampus from the year 2001 to 2006. In his senior career, Maya has played for five teams namely; Nagoya Grampus, VVV-Venlo, Southampton, Sampdoriaand, and is now at Schalke 04. Maya has made a total of 351 appearances scoring 19 goals for the clubs he has played for.

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4. Junichi Inamoto

With his bleached-blond hair, Inamoto was one of the first Japanese players to delve into European football. In his case the team was Arsenal, but he struggled to live up to the hype that met his arrival. Speaking recently, Arsene Wenger said: "Also at that time [Inamoto] lacked a little bit of belief in his qualities, because he was a very good footballer. He was still in a period when the Japanese players didn't feel they were at the level of the rest of the world." A move to Fulham in 2002 appeared to have reinvigorated the midfielder, with goals being scored against the likes of Manchester United, but a broken leg ended his time in West London. Subsequent spells with West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City failed to reignite the fire and after a brief whistle stop tour of Europe, Inamoto returned home in 2010. He often produced the goods for Japan, with his finest period coming at the 2002 World Cup. He ended the tournament as his nation's leading scorer courtesy of goals against Belgium and Russia. Such form saw him entered into the voting for that year's Ballon d'Or, although he didn't make the top 20.

5. Keisuke Honda

Japan had never won a World Cup fixture off home soil until 2010, when Honda struck to seal a 1-0 victory over Cameroon in Bloemfontein. The attacking midfielder then backed that up by scoring during the final group match against Denmark, before turning provider for Okazaki to score with a neat piece of skill. At that tournament, he was voted by FIFA as the Man of the Match in three of Japan's four matches, which also saw him named the Japanese Player of the Year. His club career has taken him to Holland, Russia and now Italy, having joined Serie A giants AC Milan in January. Although he is still awaiting honours with the Rossoneri, he did win the Russian Premier League once and Russian Cup twice while with CSKA Moscow.

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6. Yasuhito Endo

Unlike many of his international colleagues, Endo has never been tempted to test himself overseas. Following stints early in his career with Yokohama Flugels and Kyoto Purple Sanga, the 34-year-old has been with Gamba Osaka since 2001. Since joining Gamba, Endo has made the J-League Team of the Season 10 times. His refusal to try his hand in Europe has not hampered his international career either, having turned out for the Samurai Blue more times than any other player. A two-time winner of the Asian Cup in 2004 and 2007, Endo also scored one of the goals in the 3-1 win over Denmark at the 2010 World Cup.

7. Shinji Kagawa

Just 25 years old, there is every chance that by the time Kagawa brings an end to his career, he will be regarded as Japan's best ever footballer. Having impressed with Cerezo Osaka, Borussia Dortmund took the playmaker to the Bundesliga in 2010 for a mere £300,000. He would end up making that price tag look like daylight robbery, helping Dortmund to win the Bundesliga twice during his two seasons with the club. Fittingly, on his last appearance before signing for Manchester United in 2012, he scored one goal and assisted another as Dortmund dismantled Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final. The success continued last term with United as he got his hands on the Premier League trophy, with his highlight being a hat-trick against Norwich City. His omission from the 2010 World Cup squad raised eyebrows, but he returned the following year to help Japan win the Asian Cup. Twelve months later, Kagawa was voted as Asia's International Player of the Year.

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8. Hidetoshi Nakata

Hidetoshi Nakata scored almost half of his national team goals in the 1998 World Cup, with his tally of five helping Japan reach their first-ever World Cup. Nakata was nominated for the Ballon d’Or that year, and he was nominated a further two times in his career, as well as competing for the FIFA World Player of the Year four times. The Japanese playmaker was also listed in Pele’s top 100 players of the 20th century.

9.Kazuyoshi Miura

Kazuyoshi Miura is a professional Japanese footballer for who age is truly just a number. He is above 50 and continues to be an active player, He holds the global record as the oldest player to score a goal in a professional soccer league. Associated with Yokohama FC, he played for Japan’s national team for a decade, scoring 55 goals from 89 matches.

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10. Kunishige Kamamoto

It would be impossible for Kunishige Kamamoto not to top the list, with one of the greatest international goalscoring records in the World, not just for Japan. Kamamoto spent his entire career at Yanmar Diesel. Over the course of his 17- year tenure with the club, the center-forward scored over 250 goals.

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