Hidetoshi Nakata

Hidetoshi Nakata, Cavaliere OSSI (中田 英寿 Nakata Hidetoshi?, born January 22, 1977 in Yamanashi Prefecture), is a retired Japanese football player. He was one of the most famous Asian footballers of his generation.

Nakata began his professional career at age 18 in 1995, with J. League side Bellmare Hiratsuka (now Shonan Bellmare). He represented Japan at the 1996 Olympics, where Japan upset Brazil. Nakata also appeared in the 2000 Olympics.

After the World Cup in France, he moved to Perugia in Italy's Serie A.

In January 2000, after one and a half seasons at Perugia, Nakata moved to Roma for 42 Billion ITL, whom he helped to win the scudetto. The highlight of Nakata's career at Roma came on May 6, 2001 in the Serie A match against Juventus F.C. at Stadio Delle Alpi. After replacing Francesco Totti in the second half with Roma trailing 0-2, Nakata netted with a 30-yard screamer beyond Juventus goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's reach. Nakata then set up another goal when his fierce drive from outside the box was parried into the path of Vincenzo Montella, who duly equalised for Roma. The match ended with a 2-2 draw and Roma maintained a six-point margin atop the league table.

In the summer of 2001, he joined Parma where he played for two and a half seasons.

In January 2004, Nakata joined Bologna where he played the remainder of the 2003–04 season before moving to Fiorentina, where he played the following season. In August 2005, Nakata moved to English Premiership side Bolton Wanderers on loan. During his season at Bolton he scored once in the league, in a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

He made his senior national team debut in May 1997 against South Korea and was a key member of the Japanese side that qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, setting up all three Japanese goals in the qualification play-off against Iran.

At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Nakata played in all three matches for Japan, losing to Australia and Brazil, and drawing with Croatia. His performance against Croatia earned him a Man of the Match award.

On July 3, 2006, Nakata announced his retirement from professional football and the Japanese national team on his personal website "I decided half a year ago that I would retire from the world of professional football... after the World Cup in Germany." Nakata wrote, "I will never again stand on the pitch as a professional player. But I will never give up football." On June 9, 2007, he made an appearance on the pitch again for the first time in public after his retirement when he played at Luís Figo's charity match.

Nakata has cited the popular manga and anime series, Captain Tsubasa, as his primary inspiration in choosing football as a career. [source : Nakata]
Nakata's Pictures and Wallpapers

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