Defensive midfielder Kengo Nakamura has become one of Japan’s most dependable players in recent years, but it took a while to escape from the shadow cast by his more-famous namesake Shunsuke Nakamura, whose resume includes a successful stint with Scottish giants Celtic. But since making his mark, Kengo Nakamura’s talents have flourished.

 

Nakamura made his debut in 2003 for Kawasaki Frontale, which was mired in the second division at the time. The following season, Nakamura converted to a defensive midfielder, and a rejuvenated Frontale cruised to promotion to the top division, where it has remained since. Even more impressive, Kawasaki has regularly qualified for the AFC Champions League, and has grown into one of the J.League’s strongest clubs.

 

Nakamura has also gone from strength to strength. He made his international debut in 2006 under Ivica Osim and has gone on to play 64 times for Japan, including an appearance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The 32-year-old playmaker is an avid reader and brings an intelligence to his game. His ability to hit accurate long and short through-balls provides an extra edge to Japan’s attack.