Nakata was one of the top Asian footballers. Nakata was a midfielder. He made mark in top European leagues such as Italian Serie A and premier league. He was the AFC’s Player of the year in 1997 as well as 1998. In Japan, Nakata is a Fashion Icon. FIFA named him in their list of top living footballers in 2004.
Hidetoshi Nakata was born on 22nd January 1977 at Yamanashi in Japan. In 1986, he started his football journey with Hokushin Boys Football club’s youth side. In 1989, he joined Kofu Kita Jr H.S. and played for their youth side. He joined Nirasaki H.S.in 1992.He left Nirasaki H.S. to join professional side Bellmare Hiratsuka in 1995, at the age of 18.He won Asian Cup winners’ cup with Bellmare in 1996.Nakata was in the J-League’s best eleven of 1997.He won dynasty cup with Bellmare in 1998.Nakata played 111 matches for Bellmare and scored 20 goals.
In 1998, Nakata moved to Italy and joined Perugia. He played 52 matches for them and scored 13 goals. In January 2000, AS Roma bought Nakata for a fee in the legion of £15 million. Nakata scored a stunning goal against Juventus in 2001.He helped Roma to win Italian Serie A, in 2001. He played 38 matches for Roma and scored six goals. In 2001, Parma bought Nakata for £18.5 million. He won Copa Italia with Parma, in 2002.Nakata played 93 matches for Parma, and scored nine goals. During the second half of 2003/2004 season Parma sent him to Bologna on loan. He played 17 matches for them. In 2004, Nakata signed up for Fiorentina and played 23 games for them. Italy honoured Nakata by handing him knighthood of star of Italian solidarity. It was for his contribution in the improvement of Italy’s image in foreign countries, mainly in his homeland Japan. In 2005, he moved to England and joined Bolton wanderers. He played 32 matches for Bolton during his stint with them.
In 1997, Nakata played his first senior International match for Japan against South Korea. Nakata represented Japan in 1996 as well as 2000 summer Olympics. He was instrumental in Japan’s 1998 world cup qualification. He played in the 1998 world cup. He led Japan to confederations cup final in 2001.He helped Japan to qualify for 2002 world cup as well. He played in 2002 world cup in front of his home fans. Japan made it to the knockout stage. Nakata scored his first goal in world cup against Tunisia. He helped Japan to qualify for 2006 world cup and played in all their group stage matches. Japan went out of the tournament in the group stage itself. Nakata played 77 matches for Japan and scored 11 goals. Nakata bid adieu to professional football after the football world cup. Nakata was only 29 at the time of his retirement. Nakata is one of the best football team players who played in the Europe. He is an inspiration to many budding Japanese players.