Shunsuke Nakamura

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Not to be confused with Shinsuke Nakamura.
Shunsuke Nakamura
Shunsuke2 20080622.png
Nakamura playing for Japan in 2008
Personal information
Full name Shunsuke Nakamura[1]
Date of birth (1978-06-24) 24 June 1978 (age 38)
Place of birth Yokohama, Japan
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Yokohama F. Marinos
Number 10
Youth career
1986–1995 Nissan Junior Youth
1995–1998 Tōkō Gakuen High School
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997–2002 Yokohama F. Marinos 148 (33)
2002–2005 Reggina 81 (11)
2005–2009 Celtic 128 (29)
2009–2010 Espanyol 13 (0)
2010– Yokohama F. Marinos 189 (35)
National team
1997 Japan U20 5 (1)
2000 Japan U23 4 (0)
2000–2010 Japan 98 (24)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17 July 2016.

Shunsuke Nakamura (中村 俊輔 Nakamura Shunsuke?, born 24 June 1978) is a Japanese professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Yokohama F. Marinos in J1 League. He is the first and only player to have been twice named J. League Most Valuable Player, receiving the award in 2000 and 2013.[2] He is well known for his vision, touch, bending shots and free kick-taking abilities; Steve Perryman once remarked that Nakamura "could open a tin of beans with his left foot".[3]

His former clubs include Espanyol, Celtic, and Reggina. During his time at Celtic, he became one of the best Asian players to have ever played in Europe; he was nominated for the 2007 Ballon d'Or,[4] was named Scottish Player of the Year[5] and SFWA Footballer of the Year[6] in 2007, and became the first Japanese player to score in the UEFA Champions League.[7] His team accomplishments at Celtic include winning the Scottish Premier League in 2006, 2007, and 2008, the Scottish League Cup in 2006 and 2009, and the Scottish Cup in 2007.[8]

Nakamura has 98 caps and 24 goals for the Japanese national football team, including appearances in the FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 and 2010[9] and winning the AFC Asian Cup in 2000 and 2004; he was named Most Valuable Player of the 2004 competition.[10] He also appeared in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship as a member of the Japanese Under-20 team and the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of the Japanese Under-23 team.

Asteroid 29986 Shunsuke is also named in his honour.

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, Nakamura began playing football competitively at age 5, playing with the local youth club side Misono FC until he entered junior high school. In fifth grade, he was selected for Yokohama's city all-star team's tour of the former Soviet Union, even though the team was only meant to include sixth graders.[citation needed]

In 1991 at age 12, he joined Nissan FC Junior Youth, the youth division of Nissan Motors' club side, which would become Yokohama Marinos when J. League began play in 1993.

However, Nakamura was not promoted to the Nissan FC Youth team in 1994, and he enrolled at Tōkō Gakuen High School in Kawasaki. There, Nakamura was named the most valuable player of Japan's national high school football tournament in 1995, and led the school to the tournament final in 1996.

After graduation from Tōkō Gakuen in 1997, Nakamura signed with the local club, Yokohama Marinos.

Club career[edit]

Yokohama Marinos[edit]

In 1997, 19-year-old Nakamura joined Yokohama Marinos of J. League Division 1 (later merged with Yokohama Flügels and renamed "Yokohama F. Marinos"), a club whose youth side he had played for when it was known as Nissan Motors FC. He made his début with Marinos on 16 April of that year against Gamba Osaka. Nakamura finished the season with 27 appearances and 5 goals.

In 2000, Nakamura had his best season in Yokohama, recording 5 goals and 11 assists,[citation needed] and winning the J League Most Valuable Player award.[11]

Nakamura left Marinos during the 2002 season to join Reggina of Serie A, after the clubs agreed to a US$3.5 million transfer fee following a 6-month loan period.[12]


Following the disappointment of being omitted from Japan's final World Cup squad, Nakamura joined Italian club Reggina, newly promoted to Serie A.[13] Expectations for Nakamura were high, as he was given the prestigious number 10 shirt from the start, and he responded by scoring in three consecutive matches early in the season.

However, Nakamura struggled with injuries, appearing in just 18 matches in the 2003–04 season, while the club struggled to avoid relegation all three seasons he played there. After three seasons in Italy, he felt it was time to move on.


Nakamura expressed interest in playing in Spain and media reports linked him to Atlético Madrid and Deportivo La Coruña of La Liga[14] as well as Bundesliga teams Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer of 2005,[citation needed] but Nakamura ultimately chose to join Scottish Premier League runner's-up Celtic.[15]

The deal with Celtic was completed on 29 July 2005 for a reported transfer fee of £2.5 million.[15] Celtic manager Gordon Strachan stated that Nakamura "has got imagination and he sees passes other people can't see."[15] Part of the deal also involved Celtic securing the player's image rights, with a view to enhancing the club's profile and merchandising sales in the Far East.[15]

Nakamura warming up ahead of Celtic's clash with Dundee United on 5 August 2005

He made an immediate impact at Celtic, and was named Man of the Match in his début against Dundee United on 6 August 2005.[16] His creativity, as well as his work ethic and composure under pressure has won praise from teammates, manager Gordon Strachan and Celtic supporters.[17][18] In his first season with Celtic, Nakamura won his first major club titles, the Scottish Premier League and Scottish League Cup.[19]

In his second season at Celtic, he played his debut Champions League game on 13 September 2006 against Manchester United at Old Trafford. He scored from a free kick to bring the game level at 2–2, making him the first Japanese footballer to score a goal in the Champions League,[20] although Celtic eventually lost 3–2. On 14 October 2006, in a league game against Dundee United at Tannadice Nakamura scored the first hat-trick of his Celtic career and won the Man of the Match award. The game ended 4–1 in Celtic's favour.

On 21 November 2006, Nakamura scored perhaps the most important goal of his career to date with a 30-yard free-kick against Manchester United at Celtic Park in a crucial Champions League game. This goal led to Celtic qualifying for the competitions knockout stage.[21] On 26 December 2006, Nakamura chipped the ball over Dundee United's goalkeeper Derek Stillie at Celtic Park. It was Nakamura's performance in the final 20 minutes of the game which allowed Celtic to escape with a point, prompting Gordon Strachan to proclaim him "a genius".[22]

On 25 February 2007, during the Scottish Cup quarter-final between Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Nakamura broke a bone in his left hand after an Inverness player stepped on it. However, Nakamura played in the next game on 3 March against Dunfermline Athletic.[23] Hoops manager Gordon Strachan insisted that Celtic couldn't play the second leg of the Champions League match against A.C. Milan in the San Siro without him.[24] He played in both legs of the fixture, the first of which was a 0–0 draw at Celtic Park, with Milan going on to win the tie 1–0 after extra-time at the San Siro.

On 22 April 2007 Celtic won their 41st league championship, and second in a row. The title was won in dramatic fashion by an injury time free-kick from Nakamura in a 2–1 victory against Kilmarnock.[25] The result left Celtic 13 points clear of Rangers with four matches remaining. Quite fittingly, later that day Nakamura was recognized by his peers by him winning the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association's player of the year award for 2007.[5] This was followed in May by the Scottish Football Writers' Association player of the year award[6] and both Players Player of the Year award and the Fans Player of the Year award at Celtic's own end of season awards ceremony.[26] He was also awarded SPL goal of the season for his goal on 26 December against Dundee United.[5]

Nakamura featured little in the first part of Celtic's 2007–08 campaign due to a knee injury which was picked up in a Champions League qualifying match against Spartak Moscow in August 2007 and repeatedly aggravated, including in a match against Motherwell on 27 October 2007,[27] after which Nakamura sat out for nearly three months. Nakamura returned to play on 12 January 2008, for Celtic's Scottish Cup match against Stirling Albion, in which he scored a goal.[28]

On 16 April 2008 Nakamura scored his first goal against Glasgow rivals Rangers in a 2–1 victory for Celtic. Typically, it was a fantastic goal, this time being a 30-yard volley. This goal made him the first ever Japanese player to score in an Old Firm game. He later had a goal bound effort cleared off the line by a Carlos Cuéllar handball in the same match.[29]

On 1 July, it was reported that newly promoted Serie A side Bologna were interested in acquiring Nakamura's services from Celtic. However, the player has reiterated his desire to see out the remaining years of his contract until he returns to Yokohama F. Marinos to end his career.

On 13 September, Nakamura played his 100th Scottish Premier League match in a 4–2 victory against Motherwell.

On 28 February 2009, he scored a hat trick against St Mirren in a 7–0 win.


Many members of the media speculated that Nakamura would return to his hometown club Yokohama F. Marinos after the four-year contract with Celtic. In June 2009, just before a medical checkup in Yokohama, the negotiation broke down for unknown reasons. On 22 June 2009, it was announced that Nakamura had agreed terms with La Liga side Espanyol.[30] He agreed to join on a two-year contract, subject to a medical examination.[31] He made his debut with "Los Pericos" in the first league match of the 2009–10 season against Athletic Bilbao, playing the entire game. However, he did not have as much first team action as he had hoped, with the majority of his appearances being as a substitute.

Yokohama F. Marinos[edit]

On 1 February 2010, Nakamura told the Spanish press that he was going to stay at the Barcelona-based side. However, on 12 February a statement was released which admitted that both Espanyol and Nakamura himself had decided upon the player's return to Japan, as this was the only way he would secure a spot in the Japanese national team competing at the 2010 World Cup.[32] Nakamura subsequently rejoined Yokohama F. Marinos on 26 February, 8 years after leaving to play in Europe.

In 2011, Nakamura was appointed captain and led the team to best record in the J. League Division 1 since 2004.

International career[edit]

Nakamura playing for the national team.

Youth national teams[edit]

Nakamura's national team career with Japan started in 1996 as the only high school player selected to the Under-19 team for the Asia Youth Championship. The following year, he was a member of Japan's Under-20 team that finished in the final 8 of the FIFA World Youth Championship.

In 1999, Nakamura was selected a member of Japan's Under-23 team that won all its Asian qualifying matches in the run up to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Nakamura formed a lethal combination in the attacking midfield with Shinji Ono on a team that would form the core of the Japanese national team, and included Atsushi Yanagisawa, Junichi Inamoto and Naohiro Takahara. In Sydney, Japan reached the quarterfinal round.

Under Troussier[edit]

Nakamura made his senior national team debut on 13 February 2000, in an Asian Cup qualifier match against Singapore.[9] He scored his first national team goal against Brunei in the very next match on 16 February 2000, also in Asian Cup qualifying.[9]

After helping Japan win Asian Cup 2000,[33] Nakamura appeared to have cemented his place in the national team, having played every match of the tournament. However, his national team career took a sharp turn in a friendly match on 25 March 2001, a humiliating 5–0 loss to France. He did not play for the team led by manager Philippe Troussier again until almost a year later, in a friendly match against Ukraine on 21 March 2002.

Although Nakamura played in four friendly matches leading up to the 2002 World Cup Finals, he was left out of the 23-man squad to the disappointment of fans. In the second to last warm up match for the World Cup against Honduras, he scored two goals, one of them a curling shot made directly from a corner kick.[34] However, he picked up a knee injury against Honduras and did not play in the final warm up match, a 3–0 loss against Norway, and was ultimately not picked for the World Cup squad.[35]

Despite Nakamura's talents, Troussier could not find a place for him in his rigid, defensive-minded system. He believed Nakamura lacked the physique and stamina to play either the center or the left of the midfield, and had a surplus of players at both positions.[36]

Under Zico[edit]

After the World Cup, Troussier resigned as manager of Japan, and was replaced by former Brazil and Kashima Antlers star Zico. The new coach immediately brought the talented player back to the national team, starting Nakamura in his debut against Jamaica.

Zico has lauded Nakamura's improvement since 2002, especially his physical development, stating, "Unquestionably, he has improved a great deal since his move to Serie A. He is the soul of our midfield."[37] Nakamura has flourished under Zico's attacking style and earned his place as the central playmaker. He led Japan to the championship at Asian Cup 2004,[33] where he was named Most Valuable Player, and qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finals.[38] Nakamura also starred for Japan in the 2003 and 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring a total of 4 goals in 5 matches.[9]

Nakamura was suspended for the World Cup qualification match against North Korea on 8 June 2005 that clinched Japan's place in the 2006 Finals,[39] he nonetheless played a key role in the qualifying run and has replaced Hidetoshi Nakata as the main playmaker in Japan's attack.[40]

In the 2006 FIFA World Cup Nakamura scored the controversial opening goal in Japan's first game against Australia, which Australia came back to win 3–1.

After the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Nakamura retired from international football.[41]

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Japan's goal tally first.[42]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 17 July 2016[43][44]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Other[45] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Yokohama F. Marinos 1997 27 5 1 0 3 0 31 5
1998 33 9 0 0 4 1 37 10
1999 26 7 3 1 4 0 33 8
2000 30 5 2 0 4 1 2 0 38 6
2001 24 3 1 0 6 2 31 5
2002 8 4 8 4
Total 148 33 7 1 21 4 2 0 178 38
Reggina 2002–03 32 7 4 1 2 0 38 8
2003–04 16 2 2 0 18 2
2004–05 33 2 0 0 33 2
Total 81 11 6 1 2 0 89 12
Celtic 2005–06 33 6 1 0 4 0 38 6
2006–07 37 9 5 0 0 0 8 2 50 11
2007–08 26 6 4 1 0 0 6 1 36 8
2008–09 32 8 2 0 3 1 5 0 42 9
Total 128 29 12 1 7 1 19 3 166 34
Espanyol 2009–10 13 0 2 0 15 0
Total 13 0 2 0 15 0
Yokohama F. Marinos 2010 32 5 2 1 1 0 35 6
2011 24 4 5 2 2 0 31 6
2012 31 6 5 2 3 0 39 8
2013 33 10 5 1 10 2 48 13
2014 32 3 0 0 1 0 5 0 1 0 39 3
2015 19 3 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 22 3
2016 18 4 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 19 5
Total 189 35 19 6 19 3 5 0 1 0 233 44
Career total 559 108 46 9 47 8 24 3 5 0 681 128



Japan national team
Year Apps Goals
2000 16 3
2001 1 0
2002 6 2
2003 8 4
2004 15 3
2005 11 3
2006 6 1
2007 10 4
2008 9 2
2009 11 2
2010 5 0
Total 98 24



Yokohama F. Marinos



Personal life[edit]

Nakamura married a former Japanese talent in 2004. In the same year, his first son was born. His second son was born on 15 January 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland. According to the Evening Times, he is a fan of the Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo video games. He has appeared on the front cover (some of them with Zico) of the Japanese releases of Konami's Winning Eleven video game series (WE 5 WE 9, WE 9: Ubiquitous Evolution and WE 10) in 2001, 2005 and 2006. He also appeared on the front cover of Namco's Football Kingdom Trial Edition in 2004. He is the paid promoter of the Yamada electronics chain. His current boot sponsor is Adidas.[citation needed] Nakamura has illustrated the precision of his free kicks with novelty performances on television, including knocking ornaments off a wedding cake without disturbing the cake itself, and striking a ball through the window of a moving bus.[47][48]


  1. ^ "FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010: List of Players" (PDF). FIFA. 4 June 2010. p. 16. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "11/12/2013 Marinos midfielder Nakamura named J. League MVP". Japanese Football Association. 
  3. ^ "Shunsuke Nakamura: Japan star player at World Cup 2010". The Telegraph. 
  4. ^ "Ballon d'Or nominees". Sky Sports. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Nakamura takes top player award". BBC Sport. BBC. 22 April 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "Nakamura gets top writers' prize". BBC Sport. BBC. 2 May 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Japan - A Team-by-Team Guide to the 2010 World Cup". TIME. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Japan - S. Nakamura - Profile with news, career statistics and history". Retrieved 15 Jun 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Nakamura Shunsuke". Japan National Football Team Database. 
  10. ^ a b Molinaro, John F. (20 Nov 2009). "Japan's Nakamura a free kick specialist". CBC Sports. Retrieved 12 Jun 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Jリーグ 歴代のMVP・新人王・ベストイレブン・得点ランキング" [J-League history of MVP · Rookie of the Year, Best Eleven Top Scorers]. Ultra Zone (in Japanese). Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Nakamura confirms move to Reggina". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Nakamura poised to join Reggina". Sports Illustrated. 3 July 2002. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  14. ^ ESPNsoccernet – Europe – Nakamura set for Primera Liga switch
  15. ^ a b c d "Nakamura arrival excites Strachan". BBC Sport. 29 July 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  16. ^ He's the Orient express – Sport
  17. ^'2005-12-12_1152ss'
  18. ^ Scottish Football News – Shunsuke Nakamura :: Soccerphile
  19. ^ ABC Sport Online – World Cup 2006 – Shunsuke Nakamura: Creative heartbeat
  20. ^ Vitetta, Stefano (20 April 2015). "Che fine ha fatto Shunsuke Nakamura? Il re del Sol Levante" [What happened to Shunsuke Nakamura? The king of the Rising Sun]. Calcio (in Italian). Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  21. ^ Celtic into knockout phase with win over Man Utd
  22. ^'2006-12-27_1252df'
  23. ^ "Celts ease past Pars". Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  24. ^ "Celts ease past Pars". Retrieved 2007-03-01. [dead link]
  25. ^ Colin Moffat, Kilmarnock 1–2 Celtic, BBC Sport, 22 April 2007
  26. ^ a b c Clean sweep for Nakamura
  27. ^ Gordon, Phil (22 November 2007). "Shunsuke Nakamura out of Champions League as knee fails to improve". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 21 January 2008. 
  28. ^ "Celtic 3–0 Stirling Albion". [RTÉ Sport]. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2008. 
  29. ^ Greechan, John (18 April 2008). "'I meant to swerve it,' insists Nakamura of his best Celtic goal and his first strike against Rangers". Mail Online. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  30. ^ "Nakamura snubs Yokohama to join Espanyol". Japan Today. 22 June 2009. 
  31. ^ "Espanyol seal deal for Nakamura". BBC Sport. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  32. ^ "It is best for the player to return to Japan, agree Espanyol and Nakamura". Sponichi. 13 February 2010. 
  33. ^ a b c d Parrish, Charles; Nauright, John (21 April 2014). Soccer around the World: A Cultural Guide to the World's Favorite Sport. ABC-CLIO. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-1610693028. 
  34. ^ "Santos lifts Japan to 3–3 draw with Honduras". CNN. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  35. ^ World Cup 2002: Japan veterans given surprise call-up
  36. ^ FC Japan
  37. ^ ESPNsoccernet – Europe – Celtic chase signing of Nakamura
  38. ^ "Nakamura, the angel with a sharp blade". FIFA. 4 October 2005. Archived from the original on 13 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2005. 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Nakamura retires from internationals". ESPN. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  42. ^ Shunsuke Nakamura - International Appearances.
  43. ^ "2016 中村俊輔選手試合データ". Yokohama F. Marinos official website (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  44. ^ "Shunsuke Nakamura » Club matches". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  45. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Japanese Super Cup, J.League Championship, Serie A play-offs.
  46. ^ "SPFA's team of the 2006/07 season". BBC Sport. BBC. 23 April 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  47. ^ "Video: Former Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura arcs a free-kick to hit the top of a wedding cake". Irish Independent. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  48. ^ Ripley, Dan (20 January 2012). "Catching public transport – Nakamura style! Former Celtic star curls ball into moving bus". Mail Online. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 

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