Tipped as a hot prospect after his performances at the national high-school football championships, defensive midfielder Hideto Takahashi was named a “designated player for development” by FC Tokyo while he was still at Tokyo Gakugei University. The next year, 2009, his reputation was enhanced further by his sparkling displays in the bronze medal-winning Japan team at the Summer Universiade football event in Serbia. 

 

A first-choice selection for FC Tokyo, the powerfully built Takahashi can play as a holding midfielder or a central defender. A tight marker and intelligent distributor, Takahashi made his senior international debut in a friendly against Azerbaijan in 2012. 

 

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni highly regards Takahashi’s skills, but the 25-year-old faces a stiff challenge in unseating Makoto Hasebe—the captain and a proven performer in the Bundesliga—and Yasuhito Endo, Japan’s most capped player and another midfield leader. It will not be easy to crack the defensive line-up either, where Southampton’s Maya Yoshida currently rules the roost. 

 

The FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 could therefore prove a litmus test for gauging whether Takahashi can make the step up to the next level, and could also shape his prospects of playing at 2014 FIFA World Cup™.