Nakamura quits Japan on 98 caps

TOKYO - Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura has quit international football two caps short of making 100 appearances after the Blue Samurai were knocked out of the World Cup.

Local media reported on Thursday that the 32-year-old had decided to retire from the national side after spending most of the South Africa finals on the bench.

"My next Japan game? There won't be one," Nakamura told Thursday's Nikkan Sports after Japan were beaten on penalties by Paraguay in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday.

"I wanted to leave some mark on this World Cup. It's weird. It's as if the football gods are testing me."

Nakamura was controversially left out of Japan's squad by Frenchman Philippe Troussier when the country co-hosted the World Cup in 2002 and the team reached the last 16.

He played at the 2006 finals under Brazilian Zico when the Japanese exited meekly in the first round after collecting just one point.

"Tolerating (not playing) has been really hard," said Nakamura, who played 98 times for Japan and scored 24 goals.

"Me and the World Cup obviously don't go well together," added the former Celtic and Espanyol player. "Maybe that's just destiny."

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