There are few players who have been so good for so long like Shinji Ono, but on Sunday the Japanese football icon wrapped up his remarkable career.
Ono started for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in their season finale and played 22 minutes before coming off the pitch for the final time. His teammates all came to hug him as the crowd at the Sapporo Dome gave him a thunderous ovation.
👏👏👏 Shinji Ono takes his final bow as his incredible career comes to an end at the Sapporo Dome.— J.LEAGUE Official (English) (@J_League_En) December 3, 2023
Thank you to a one-of-a-kind Japanese football talent and a J.League legend. 🇯🇵⚽️ pic.twitter.com/07XdbVn3m8
Fittingly, Ono’s final match came against Urawa Reds, the club he played for when he broke out as a young star and won the Meiji Yasuda J1 League, AFC Champions League and Emperor’s Cup.
The 44-year-old Ono’s career began back in 1998 for Urawa, where he won J.League Rookie of the Year, was named to the J.League Best XI and won a slew of AFC awards. He then moved to Feyenoord in the Netherlands, where he helped the Dutch giants to the UEFA Cup crown.
Ono went back to Urawa and in his second stint won three major trophies with the Reds. He went on to play at VfL Bochum in the German Bundesliga and had a spell with Western Sydney Wanderers, winning the A-League Premiership. He also played for Shimizu S-Pulse, but in 2014 he signed with Consadole, where he found a long late career home.
In addition to Ono’s fabulous club career, he was a fixture for the national team. First, he played for every Japan youth team beginning with the U16s, then he made 56 appearances for the senior team. He played in the FIFA World Cup in 1998, 2002 and 2006 and was a central figure as the Samurai Blue won the 2000 AFC Asian Cup.
Simply put, Ono is a giant of Japanese football, with a career spanning 26 years. His career may have come to an end, but his legacy will remain forever.