It may be a stretch to describe forward Shinji Okazaki as an elegant player, but he is certainly very effective and committed. His quick acceleration, high work-rate and tenacity even have shades of German legend Gerd Muller - as does his ability to regularly find the net.

 

Okazaki rose to prominence during the qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. After making his international debut in 2008, Okazaki scored an incredible 15 goals in 16 games for Japan in 2009. He burnished his reputation by tucking away a goal in Japan’s 3-1 win against Denmark in the group stage at the FIFA World Cup, and scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Argentina in a friendly in October 2010.

 

Okazaki began his career in 2005 with Shimizu S-Pulse, mainly playing as a striker or a wide midfielder. In the winter of 2011, Okazaki signed with Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart, where the 27-year-old’s reliable performances have him in the frame for an appearance at a second consecutive FIFA World Cup.