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Hide Nakata returning to soccer after "end of journey"

7, 02. 2007

   Hidetoshi Nakata, Japan's soccer legend who quit the sport leaving a message: "Life is a journey, journey is a life." is still continuing his journey. But Ivica Osim, manager of Japan national soccer team, sent him a message that might mean to persuade him to return to playing soccer again. Nakata, too, posted a remark in his website home page expressing his strong passion for soccer. Now rumor has it that he will return.

Overseas media also report Nakata's return

Nakata seems to want to return to soccer in a way different from
Nakata seems to want to return to soccer in a way different from "active player" (from: nakata.net)

   Osim gave a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo on June 21, 2007, in which he said of Nakata, who retired after playing in the 2006 World Cup in Germany:

"Nakata is still young. If he wants to play soccer again in Japan or in Europe, there is a room for him in the Japan national team. The door is still open."

   Although Osim also made a critical comment about Nakata by saying "there are now players who make him outdated." But his statement was taken as an unprecedented call for a retired player to return to playing. Not only Japanese but also overseas media reported that Nakata might come back as an active soccer player. Nakata, the Japanese star player who retired so young, is again in the center of public attention.

   Nakata was on a "journey" around the world after his retirement as active player, except for the appearance in TV commercials for firms with which he was still under contract. He posted on his home page a message: "I am so busy every day that I think there are 36 hours in a day." This indicated he was making a fruitful "journey". Lately, however, a change was felt in the "journey".

   He played for a full 90 minutes wearing a uniform with the familiar back number of "7" in a training much in Myanmar on June 7, 2007. He then shot a successful goal. He also played in the charity match organized on June 9 by former Portugal national team player Luis Figo as a member of the "Figo team". He played the second half fully with other world class players. Nakata posted a message on his home page about the charity match to the effect:

"What came to my mind most strongly after the playing was that I was not an active player. I feel I should have had a little training before playing in the charity match (laughter). It was a charity match, but there were still people who came to see. I should have been ready to show some performance to impress the viewers."

   He thus seemed like confessing he was "declining". But he still showed his strong attachment to soccer as he "likes the sport".

"I wish I could organize by myself."

   Nakata is to play in the match, "FIFA World All-star Vs Chinese Representative Team", which will be an official game to be held by FIFA in Hong Kong on July 1. This indicates that he is ready positively to take part in public games. It is not impossible that Nakata will return to soccer. Nakata's management office, Sunny Side Up, inquired by J-CAST, denied he is returning to soccer by saying, "It is true Nakata has shown some changes, such as playing in a charity match. But he does not plan at the moment to return to active playing."

   Nakata, in the meantime, posted the following message on his home page on June 15:

"I have only to take part in a match like this, which is enjoyable to both viewers and players in the past. I wished I could organize it by myself. "I have a feeling that problems of the world can be solved through soccer, though only a small part of them. If it's soccer, I can help. That's what I strongly feel lately as I make a journey like this."

   This sounds like he is hoping to return to soccer in a different way from being an active player. The office said about this:

"There is no plan decided at present (to organize a game). His real intention has been expressed only in his mail (referring to 'Hide's mail' in the home page)."

   It seems certain that he is willing to return to soccer in the form of organizing a match.

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