Takeshi Okada regularly calls upon two Nakamuras. One is the former Celtic playmaker Shunsuke; the other is the younger, less-renowned Kengo, who is nonetheless a star in his own right. Like his namesake, the latter is a free-kick specialist who, although predominantly left-footed, can use his right boot to great effect.
Nakamura went largely unnoticed by Japanese scouts until he graduated from Chuo University in 2003. However, the Tokyo-born playmaker quickly made waves following his debut for Kawasaki Frontale in 2003. A Barcelona fan, he was often compared to Josep Guardiola within his homeland.
Nakamura helped Kawasaki win promotion into the J.League in 2004, and has starred in the Japanese top flight ever since. He has, in fact, been named in the tournament’s team of the season in each of the past four campaigns, and was nominated for the prestigious AFC Asian Player of the Year award in 2009.
Nakamura made his Japan debut in October 2006, and scored twice in eight matches during qualifying for South Africa. He tries to base his game on Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Guardiola.