09.01.2024 11:01 h

Japan's veteran football star Endo retires

Japan's veteran midfielder Yasuhito Endo on Tuesday announced his retirement after 26 years of his career and joined Gamba Osaka as a coach.

"I had a really long and fulfilling 26 years of football life" between 1998 and 2023, Endo said in a video message posted on the club's website.

"I never thought I'd play this long," the 43-year-old added.

Endo was in Japan's World Cup squad for three times and was named Asian player of the year in 2009.

He won 152 Japan caps, a record.

Having spent nearly two decades at Gamba Osaka as a footballer, Endo said he's "very happy" to be back as a coach.

"As a coach, I am still learning... but I want to grow with the players and contribute to the team's victories," he said.

Kozo Tashima, president of the Japan Football Association, said Endo posses the ability "to make decisions calmly" and "high level of (football) skills."

"I hope he will use his experience and achievements for the development of Japanese football."