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Japan captain Makoto Hasebe announces international retirement

Kyodo

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe announced Tuesday he is retiring from the national team, a day after the Samurai Blue were knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium.

Hasebe took to social media to make the announcement, posting on Instagram that it is time for him to “end my time with the national team.”

“Playing for the national team is different from club teams in that the players don’t know when or who will be selected. So I understand I’m being self-centered by announcing this,” the 34-year-old, who finishes his career with 114 international caps, said.

Just a day earlier, Hasebe led Japan in a heartbreaking 3-2 round-of-16 loss to Belgium. The team gave up a two-goal second-half lead before allowing Belgian substitute Nacer Chadli to net the winner in the 94th minute.

Speaking directly to the fans, Hasebe extended thanks for the support the team received at the World Cup, saying it “gave us the power to keep moving forward.”

The Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder thanked all the teammates who joined him in battle over the more-than 12 years since he made his national team debut in February 2006.

Hasebe was appointed Japan’s on-field captain for the 2010 World Cup and wore the armband at subsequent tournaments in Brazil and Russia.

His appearance in the loss to Belgium at Rostov-on-Don on Monday was the 11th of his World Cup career, equal most for any Japanese player. He scored twice for Japan, but never at the World Cup.

In closing the social media post, Hasebe said he always played with pride when representing Japan and that he “would not give the time I spent in the national team up for the world.”