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Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010

Goalkeeper Narazaki named player of year

Kyodo News

Nagoya Grampus' Seigo Narazaki was named the most valuable player of the 2010 J. League season on Monday night, becoming the first goalkeeper to win the honor.

"Looking at the people who have won in the past and the faces on this stage, I have to wonder if I deserve this award," Narazaki said. "I owe it to my teammates and the people who have supported me all along."

"It means something that a keeper has finally received this honor and I hope it encourages the other keepers in the league. It was nice enough just to win the championship, but now this. I'm absolutely thrilled," he said.

The 34-year-old Narazaki was chosen from 29 nominees, who were voted for by the managers and players of the 18 clubs in the J. League's first division.

Narazaki, who put an end to his international career after the World Cup in the summer, was a stabilizing force in goal as he led Grampus to their first league title.

Nagoya allowed the second-highest number of shots in the league with 483 — only relegated Shonan Bellmare allowed more with 575 — but still won the championship after letting in the third-fewest goals (37) from the 34 games.

Narazaki, who signed with Grampus in 1999 after his former club Yokohama Flugels went belly up, is the second Nagoya player to win the MVP after his current manager, Dragan Stojkovic, won the award in 1995.

Stojkovic was named manager of the year as coach of the winning team. Narazaki was joined by four teammates in the Best XI: defenders Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Takahiro Masukawa, midfielder Danilson Cordoba and forward Josh Kennedy, who finished the season as joint top scorer with Jubilo Iwata's Ryoichi Maeda.

Maeda — the first player in league history to win consecutive scoring titles — was also in the all-first team alongside Sanfrecce Hiroshima defender Tomoaki Makino and four midfielders: Kawasaki Frontale's Kengo Nakamura, Marcio Richardes of Albirex Niigata, Shimizu S-Pulse's Jungo Fujimoto and Yasuhito Endo of Gamba Osaka.

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