When Eiji Kawashima chose to leave Omiya Ardija in 2004, he made a bold decision: to join Nagoya Grampus and compete with the highly-rated veteran Seigo Narazaki for the goalkeeper’s jersey. It was a battle the former failed to win, but he had nevertheless succeeded in underlining his courage and ambition.
Kawashima quickly fell in love with football and operating between the sticks. After graduating from high school, he joined Omiya in 2001. On a tour of Italy a year later, he caught the attention of Parma, whose attempt to sign him was rebuffed by the Japanese team.
It was at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2003 that Kawashima really began to make a name for himself, his swift reflexes and positional aptitude central to Japan’s run to the quarter-finals - earning him his move to Nagoya.
Tired of deputizing for Narazaki, he eventually jumped ship to Kawasaki Frontale in 2007. That switch has proved a profitable one for the 27-year-old’s career. He was played regularly in the J.League and AFC Champions League, and established himself as an automatic in Takeshi Okada’s Japan squads.