As millions of Japanese fans sat shell-shocked in their homes and thousands at Al Janoub Stadium wiped away tears and collected their belongings ahead of the journey back to their Doha accommodations, Samurai Blue defender Yuto Nagatomo found himself at a rare loss for words.

Monday’s defeat to Croatia in the last 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar almost certainly marked the end of the road for the 36-year-old’s international career, which began with a 2008 debut and saw the Ehime Prefecture native become the first field player to represent his country at four editions of the global showpiece.

Although his speed and endurance have declined in recent seasons, the former Inter and Galatasaray player’s role as the team’s designated moodmaker has only grown, his shouts of “bravo” following historic group-stage wins over Germany and Spain so loud they interrupted his teammates’ postgame interviews.