• Kyodo

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Former Japan striker Shoji Jo said Thursday he will bring his 12-year playing career to a close at the end of this season.

The 31-year-old Yokohama FC forward made the announcement at Mitsuzawa Stadium after his side drew 0-0 against Tokushima Vortis in the J. League second division to edge closer to the title and promotion to the top flight.

“I will retire at the end of this season but will die trying (in the final two games of the season) to help our team win the championship and get promoted to J-1,” Jo told supporters in an emotional speech.

“I don’t think I have the strength to compete for 90 minutes in the top flight but I hope to stay involved in soccer and give something back,” he added.

Jo, who made his debut for JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Chiba) in 1994, scored seven goals in 36 appearances for Japan and played a key role in helping the national team reach the World Cup for the first time in France in 1998.

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