Tomoaki Makino announced his retirement on Sunday, ending a 17-year career that saw him play for his hometown Sanfrecce Hiroshima, dabble abroad, become a legend at Urawa Reds, and finish at Vissel Kobe as a J.League icon.
Makino was born in Hiroshima and came up in the Sanfrecce Hiroshima academy before making his debut for his local club in 2006. He helped the team to the Emperor’s Cup final in 2007 and, after suffering the drop, led the Viola to the J2 League title that put them back in the top flight.
Makino was named to the J1 Best XI in 2010 before leaving Sanfrecce to play for FC Köln in the German Bundesliga, but he returned to the J.League two years later when he joined Urawa Reds.
The center back was sensational for the Reds, twice being named to the Best XI, winning two Emperor’s Cups, a J.League YBC Levain Cup and conquering the continent when he helped Urawa win the AFC Champions League in 2017.
Makino’s final match for Urawa came in the 2021 Emperor’s Cup final, where his stoppage-time goal delivered the Reds a 2-1 victory and sent him out as the trophy-winning hero.
Makino was also a crucial player for his country, making 34 appearances for Japan. He helped the Samurai Blue to the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup, two Kirin Cups, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final and played in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.