Jiji PressKAZAN, Russia (Jiji Press) — Makoto Hasebe, the captain of Japan’s soccer squad at the World Cup in Russia, has announced his retirement from the Samurai Blue.
The 34-year-old midfielder, who currently plays for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany’s Bundesliga, announced his exit from the national team on Tuesday, a day after Japan suffered a heartbreaking loss to Belgium in their World Cup round-of-16 match.
Hasebe said he had made up his mind to retire before the start of the quadrennial tournament.
“I really have nothing but gratitude,” Hasebe told reporters. “I had a marvelous time as I was supported by many friends and supporters.”
Hasebe made his debut as a player for Samurai Blue in February 2006.
Serving as captain at three World Cup events — South Africa in 2010, in Brazil in 2014 and this year’s tournament — he was a reliable leader who held the team together in tough times.
Looking back at the eight years he has captained the side, Hasebe said that he has grown not only as a player through the experience, but also as a person.
“I have gained a lot” through the years, he said.
The Belgium game represented the 11th World Cup match for Hasebe, defender/midfielder Yuto Nagatomo and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, a national record.
Hasebe has played in 114 games as a member of the Japanese team, fifth on the all-time list, and scored two goals.