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Matsuda no more - I can't believe it, says Shunsuke Nakamura

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By REUTERS
  • Published 5.08.11
  •  

Tokyo: Former Japan defender Naoki Matsuda died in hospital on Thursday, two days after collapsing during training from a suspected heart attack. He was 34.

Matsuda, who won 40 caps for Japan and represented his country at the 2002 World Cup, had been put on an artificial respirator after arriving at hospital unconscious on Tuesday.

Hiroshi Otsuki, the president of his JFL (third division) side Matsumoto Yamaga, told Japanese media the club had been informed Matsuda had lost his fight by the player’s family.

“It’s terrible to see someone die at such a young age,” former Japan coach Philippe Troussier, who gave Matsuda his international debut, said. “It’s a big shock. He was a great guy and I felt a close bond to him. My thoughts go to his family. Matsuda was a kind of loyal soldier.

“He listened attentively to what I said. He was polite and always a reliable key man in the team.

He was a reliable and strong player and key for Japan’s World Cup side in 2002,” added the Frenchman, who led the Blue Samurai to the last 16 as co-hosts. “It’s bad news for Japanese football. We’d all hoped he would pull through. To see someone taken away doing something they love, so suddenly, at 34, is tragic. It’s awful news.”

Medical personnel had rushed to Matsuda’s aid early on Tuesday after he collapsed with suspected heatstroke. Yamaga later said the player had gone into cardio-respiratory arrest.

Record temperatures across Japan have caused a rise in heatstroke cases with 43 deaths in the two months through the end of July, according to Kyodo news agency.

Matsuda made 385 appearances for Yokohama F-Marinos, helping them win back-to-back J.League titles in 2003 and 2004.

“On behalf of Fifa and the worldwide family of football, I wish to extending our condolences to you, to the Japanese football community and, most importantly, to Naoki Matsuda’s friends and loved ones,” Fifa President Sepp Blatter said. “Please let them know that today the football community stands by their side.”

“I can’t believe it,” said former teammate Shunsuke Nakamura.

The 33-year-old former Celtic midfielder played alongside Matsuda with both Yokohama and the Japan national team. “He was dynamic in every aspect and he was a kind of big brother for everyone in a positive sense,” continued Nakamura.

heartbreaks

Marc-Vivien Foe: The Cameroon player collapsed on the field during the 2003 Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia in June in Lyon. Doctors spent 45 minutes attempting to revive him, and although he was still alive upon arrival at the stadium’s medical centre he died shortly afterwards.

Cristiano Junior: Dempo’s Brazilian striker died on the field after a collision with Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Paul during the 2004 Fed Cup final in December in Bangalore

Antonio Puerta: The 22-year-old Sevilla midfielder had a cardiac arrest during a La Liga match against Getafe in August 2007. He died three days later.

Daniel Jarque: The 26-year old Espanyol defender was found dead in his hotel room during the club’s pre-season tour in Florence in August 2009. Close friend and Spain midfielder Andreas Iniesta celebrated his 116th minute-winning goal in the World Cup final against Holland by removing his jersey to reveal an undershirt with the sentence “Dani Jarque siempre con nosotros” (“Dani Jarque, always with us”)