Soccer / J. League

Ex-Japan striker Suzuki retiring at end of season

Kyodo

Former Japan striker and World Cup goal scorer Takayuki Suzuki will retire at the end of the season, his J. League second-division club JEF United Chiba announced Wednesday.

The 39-year-old, who toe-poked an equalizer in a 2-2 draw against Belgium in the 2002 World Cup group stage, the co-hosts’ first goal of the tournament, will hold a news conference on Monday.

A native of Ibaraki Prefecture, Suzuki started his career close to home with Kashima Antlers in 1995. He had a breakthrough season in 2001, scoring six times in 26 games and winning a place on Philippe Troussier’s World Cup side.

Suzuki, who had a loan spell at Belgium’s Genk and also played for Red Star Belgrade as well as the Portland Timbers, scored 17 goals in 108 J. League top-flight matches and 11 in 55 games for Japan.

Suzuki joined the J. League’s other Ibaraki side, J2 Mito HollyHock in 2011 after agreeing to play for free as an amateur, and scored 24 goals in 126 matches over four years. This season, Suzuki joined JEF United, where he had played a short spell on loan in 1998, but only managed to come off the bench twice in the league.