Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, one of the biggest hits in the country’s positive World Cup campaign, departed from Narita airport for Belgium on Tuesday to sign a contract with Lierse SK.
With a string of fine performances, Kawashima emerged from the shadow of Seigo Narazaki, who was seen as the first-choice goalkeeper before the World Cup, and played all four matches in South Africa.
“I want to play all games for my new club in Belgium,” the 27-year-old Kawashima said before departing. “After I experienced the World Cup, I thought that putting myself in a more competitive environment is the only way I can get better.”
Jubilo Iwata’s Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi is the only Japan goalkeeper to have played in Europe, for England’s Portsmouth in 2001-02 and Denmark’s FC Nordsjaelland in 2003-04.
Kawashima played for the J. League’s Kawasaki Frontale for the past three-plus seasons.