Hidetoshi Nakata: Why I fell out of love with football | inside World Soccer

Japanese legend Hidetoshi Nakata has revealed the reason why he retired from professional football at the relatively tender age of 29.

Hidetoshi Nakata remains arguably the most loved sportsman in Japan
Hidetoshi Nakata remains arguably the most loved sportsman in Japan

Photo: Getty Images

His retirement left many shocked in Japan, where he is seen as a figurehead of the nation's rapid rise as a force in international football.

After the 1998 World Cup in France, Nakata was signed by Perugia in Serie A, where he became only the second Japanese footballer to appear in the Italian top-flight after Kazuyoshi Miura had done same for Genoa four years earlier.

After a season-and-a-half, Nakata moved up to AS Roma, helping the team win the Scudetto, before going on to play for Parma, Bologna, Fiorentina, and Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League before hanging up his boots in 2006.

"Day after day I realised that football had just become a big business," Nakata told TMWMagazine.

"I could feel that the team were playing just for money and not for the sake of having fun. I always felt that a team was like a big family, but it stopped being like that.

"I was sad, that's why I stopped at only 29."


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