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Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008

Nanami: I've had a 'fulfilling' career

IWATA, Shizuoka Pref. (Kyodo) Jubilo Iwata and former Japan midfielder Hiroshi Nanami said Friday he will retire at the end of the season and added he has no regrets about his 14-year playing career.

"I have this feeling that I've done it all and those were 14 fulfilling years," said the 35-year-old Nanami, a key member of Japan's squad when the country made its World Cup debut at the 1998 finals in France.

"I said when I joined (Iwata) that attention should be focused on me when I have the ball with my left foot, and years after that I heard fans talk about my left foot and that raised my confidence level," he said.

Nanami was capped by Japan 67 times and scored nine goals. He has made 313 appearances in the J. League first division, mostly with Jubilo, helping the Shizuoka Prefecture club to three league titles.

"I never thought that I would be named to a national squad and play for Japan this many times," Nanami said. "I can't come up with such a scenario in a manga story. Looking back, I gave my all in all those games."

Nanami began his professional career at Iwata in 1995 and made his international debut the same year.



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