Even though Japan were eliminated from the FIFA Confederation Cup Germany 2005 at the group stage, they made a huge impression on the tournament. Zico's men distinguished themselves with their fighting spirit, drive and desire to play, and at the heart of this impressive team effort, one star shone brighter than the rest.
Shunsuke Nakamura of Italian side Reggina was the main architect of his country's 1-0 victory over Greece, making the play throughout and setting up Masashi Oguro for the only goal of the match. The second act of the Nakamura show took place a few days later against five-time world champions Brazil. His magnificent left-foot strike into the top corner of Brazilian keeper Marcos's net and a free-kick that struck the post before Oguro followed up to score the equaliser so nearly created the big upset of the tournament.
Eventually Japan were nudged into third place of Group B on goal difference by Brazil, but the mercurial Nakamura was named the Anheuser Busch Man of the Match twice, winning fans among not only the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) but also visitors to FIFAworldcup.com .
The question we asked was: "Which player are you most sorry to see leave the tournament?" Overall, 33 per cent of those who responded voted for Nakamura, ahead of Australia striker John Aloisi (19 per cent) and Nakamura's team-mate Oguro (10 per cent). Most votes came from English language readers (70 per cent of the total), of whom 40 per cent voted for Nakamura.
Visitors to the French pages were most disappointed to see the Tunisian Santos leave the tournament (29 per cent), ahead of Nakamura (23 per cent). Among Spanish-speaking voters, Aloisi caused most heartache, grabbing 43 per cent of votes to Nakamura's 16. The Australian, it might be added, is currently on the books of a Spanish side, Osasuna. Finally, 29 per cent of German speakers most regretted Greece coach Otto Rehhagel's departure, with 21 per cent choosing John Aloisi and 19 per cent Nakamura.
Complete poll results:
1 Shunsuke Nakamura (JPN), 33%; 2 John Aloisi (AUS), 19%; 3 Masashi Oguro (JPN), 10%; 4 Antonios Nikopolidis (GRE) and Otto Rehhagel (GRE), 9%; 6 Santos (TUN), 6%; 7 Tim Cahill (AUS), 3%; 8 Haykel Guemamdia (TUN), 1%
Continue to have your say on the FIFA Confederation Cup Germany 2005 by taking part in the polls on FIFAworldcup.com .