Sanfrecce Hiroshima goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa appears to be the heir apparent to immovable Samurai Blue shot-stopper Eiji Kawashima. Widely considered to be the best goalkeeper playing in Japan, Nishikawa helped Hiroshima win its maiden J.League crown in 2012 and was chosen in the J.League Best XI.
A product of the Oita Trinita youth academy, Nishikawa was a solid performer in national age-grade teams, including at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Despite his youth, he also established himself as Trinita’s top goalkeeper that season. Nishikawa was selected for Japan the following year but did not play, and was between the sticks at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for all three of Japan’s group-stage defeats. Injuries also hampered his career.
In 2009, Nishikawa made his full international debut, but this delight was tempered by Oita’s demotion to the second division that season. Seeking top-grade football, Nishikawa shifted to Sanfrecce in 2010. He was considered unlucky not to be picked for Japan’s squad to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but has won favour with Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni. Nishikawa came off the bench to replace Kawashima after he was given a red card in Japan’s group game against Syria at the 2011 Asian Cup, and has since been an able deputy, keeping Kawashima at the top of his game.