Suzuki promises to play for free

TOKYO - Former Japan World Cup striker Takayuki Suzuki has promised to play for free this season after being unveiled by J.League second division club Mito Hollyhock on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old, who scored Japan's first goal of the 2002 World Cup as co-hosts, had played minor league soccer in the United States since 2008 and initially planned to switch to coaching.

"My aim is to get Mito into the J.League first division. That's all," Suzuki told a news conference.

"I heard the club had financial difficulties so I asked to play on an amateur contract," added the bleached-blond striker, who has also had spells in Belgium and Serbia.

Suzuki agreed to join Hollyhock, in Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, after hearing about their plight following the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Formerly of J.League power Kashima Antlers, also based in Ibaraki, the local-born Suzuki said: "I'm really happy to be able to play back at home again."