When Takeshi Okada made Atsuto Uchida the fourth-youngest Japan international in history in 2008, at the tender age of 19 years and 305 days, many observers felt the coach had acted prematurely. But, having already highlighted his potential on duty for his country at U-16, U-18 and U-20 level, and he has certainly vindicated his presence in the senior squad since.
Uchida started out on the right flank before being converted into an attack-minded wingback, where his energy and crossing ability make him an accomplished performer. And before he had graduated from high school, he already had a who’s who of Japanese giants coveting his signature. It was ultimately captured by one of the biggest, Kashima Antlers.
Uchida played in the opening match of the J. League 2006, and he scored his first goal in his fourth game of that campaign. The following year he was called into the full Japan squad for the first time. He also played all four of his nation’s matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007.
In 2008 he turned out at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, played in seven of Japan’s 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers, scoring his first goal against Bahrain, and was named in the Japanese top flight’s team of the season. Uchida has been a regular in the Samurai Blue side thereafter.