The Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi-Seigo Narazaki battle for Japan’s goalkeeping jersey has intrigued – and divided – fans for over a decade. The former was first choice at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ in France and during Germany 2006, while the latter got the nod at Korea/Japan 2002. But since 2007, Narazaki has been the automatic choice.
Born in Kashiba in 1976, Narazaki joined J.League side Yokohama Flugels in 1995 and immediately became No.1 in his first season as a professional. He duly earned his first Japan call-up in 1996, and made his international debut two years later after helping his club win the Emperor’s Cup.
When the Flugels went bankrupt in 1999, Narazaki moved to Nagoya Grampus, whom he helped win the Emperor’s Cup in his first campaign. Described by Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic as "an outstanding keeper, very consistent", he has made the J.League team of the season on four occasion and became the first man to keep 100 clean sheets in the competition.
He was part of the Japan squads that finished second at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001, and won the AFC Asian Cup three years later. He was also one of his country’s top performers in their successful qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010.