Yokohama F. Marinos and Japan defender Yuji Nakazawa on Tuesday was named the 2004 Footballer of the Year in a poll of Japanese soccer writers.

Nakazawa won the accolade for the first time after collecting 98 of the 199 votes cast nationwide, while Urawa Reds’ Brazilian striker Emerson placed second with 58 and striker Yoshito Okubo, who joined Spain’s Mallorca from Cerezo Osaka on loan late last year, came third with 18.

“I think that everyone in the team should get this award but I feel satisfied with the way I played last season,” said Nakazawa.

“This year I want to aim higher and do my best to live up to the team’s expectations,” he said.

It was the second consecutive year that a Yokohama player received the award following striker Tatsuhiko Kubo in 2003.

Nakazawa, who was also named J. League Player of the Year, helped his side win the J. League championship for the second straight season.

The 27-year-old also enjoyed an outstanding year on the international stage as he played a pivotal role in helping Japan retain the Asian Cup in China last summer.

Reysol inks Choi

Kashiwa Reysol has signed a five-month loan deal with South Korean international striker Choi Sung Kuk, officials of the J. League first-division club said Tuesday.

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