Soccer / J. League

Former Japan international soccer defender Yuji Nakazawa, 40, to retire

Kyodo

Durable Yokohama F Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa, who played in two World Cups for Japan, has decided to retire, an official source said Monday.

Last Aug. 19, the 40-year-old sat out a game due to pain in his left knee, ending his string of 178 straight full games, and 199 consecutive game appearances, both league records for nongoalkeepers.

Despite treatment and surgery in September, the knee has not responded as well as expected.

Nakazawa, who spent time in Brazil after graduating from high school, joined Verdy in 1999, and moved to Marinos in 2002. He contributed to Yokohama’s league championships in 2003 and 2004 — when he became the first defender to be named the J-League’s MVP. His 593 J-League games are third all-time.

His 110 caps tie him for sixth most by a Japan international.

An official announcement is expected in the coming days.