Kagoshima Commercial High School has produced so many professional footballers in recent decades, including reigning AFC Asian Player of the Year, Yasuhito Endo. Another is Daisuke Matsui, who, unlike the Japan-based Endo, has made his name overseas in France.
The midfielder began his career at Kyoto Sanga in 2000. The team were relegated from the Japanese top tier in his first season, but Matsui helped them return to the elite at the first time of asking. Demotion befell Kyoto again in 2003, a year in which the skillful playmaker made his international debut.
After shining at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in 2004, in the coveted No.10 jersey, Matsui was signed by Le Mans, then in the French second division, on loan. His vision and dribbling earned him the nickname Le Soleil du Mans (The Sun of Mans); three goals in 25 games earned him a permanent transfer to the Stade Leon-Bollee.
Matsui spent four seasons at Le Mans before moving to Saint-Etienne. He failed to make a positive impact at Les Verts, however, and duly moved on to Grenoble in 2009.
Matsui’s omission from Japan’s squad for Germany 2006 was largely attributed to his slender physique, but his technical ability has rendered him a regular under the reign of Takeshi Okada.