Soccer / J. League

Longtime Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka hangs up his boots

Kyodo

Marcus Tulio Tanaka, a critical part of Japan’s defense, including a stint at one FIFA World Cup, announced his decision to retire on Sunday.

“Today I’m ending a 19-year career,” the 38-year-old Tanaka told a Tokyo news conference. “I’m overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude.”

Tanaka, primarily a central defender, was born in Brazil but acquired Japanese citizenship in 2003 while playing with J. League second-division side Mito Hollyhock.

He earned 43 caps and scored eight goals for Japan, appearing in all four of Japan’s games in the Samurai Blue’s run to the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In 2006, he was a member of Urawa Reds’ first J. League championship side and four years later played a key role in Nagoya Grampus’ first title run.

Tanaka played in 395 first-division games, scoring 75 goals. He also had 29 goals in 134 J2 games.