Shunsuke Nakamura delivers classy speech after retirement; receives message from ex-Celtic boss

By Lewis Laird

November 10, 2022

Former Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura has spoken out for the first time since his retirement from football.

The Japanese icon brought his career, which spanned across 26-years to an end last month at the incredible age of 44.

During his career, Nakamura had several spells at the beginning and towards the latter stages in his homeland and spent time in Europe in countries such as Italy, Spain and Scotland.

Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Of course, his most memorable spell to the Parkhead faithful came during his time in the East End of Glasgow, where he spent his playing days between 2005-2009.

Nakamura had many memorable moments in the green and white Hoops, including a number of incredible free-kick strikes against the likes of Manchester United.

The midfielder wasn’t only good from a dead ball, though. The Japanese international also scored some brilliant long-range efforts, such as his swerving strike against Glasgow rivals Rangers.

After bringing his career to an end in his mid-40s, Celtic supporters and some current players sent their best wishes to Nakamura as he heads for a well-deserved break in retirement.

Earlier this afternoon, Nakamura spoke to the press in his homeland about his decision to call time on his playing days, reflecting on an incredible career and what is to come next.

When asked about his incredible abilities from a free kick, Nakamura said [Goal as translated on DeepL]: “I don’t like to be told that’s all I do, so it wasn’t until I turned professional that I became aware of it.

“Before that, it was more like dominating the game, dribbling, passing, through balls and that extra bit, but then I realised that free kicks remained, which is strange.

“I’m glad I did it. I’m conscious that my obsession is to decide as much as a penalty kick. I show my teammates that when I kick it, it always goes in, and they trust me. That’s not just in free kicks but also in my play. That’s my obsession.”

The 44-year-old was also asked about the next step in his career, and he revealed that coaching is the direction he would like to head in. However, he admitted he still has a lot to learn in that field.

He said: “If you use your own criteria, you might not get the message across, or you might not get the best out of it.

“There may be times when I have to perform, but even at B level (coach licence), I was told, ‘you teach too much because you know the answers’ and I have to make myself aware of it. I still have to learn a lot of things. I try not to create an ideal image.”

Before his press conference came to a close, Nakamura expressed his gratitude and thanks to all the supporters and staff of all the clubs he has featured for, including Celtic.

Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

He continued: “I can only thank the people and players of Yokohama Marinos, Yokohama F Marinos, Reggina, Celtic, Espanyol, Jubilo Iwata and Yokohama FC, to whom I have belonged so far.

“Thank you very much. Thank you also to the media for 26 years. Thanks to the Japanese Football Association, I have had a good experience and grown up as a member of the Japanese national team. Thank you very much.

“Finally, I think I have grown so much because of the fans and supporters, so thank you very much for fighting with me for 26 years. I feel that I have really done my best, and I finished with a clean feeling, so I feel relieved and happy. 26 years, thank you.”

Former Celtic boss joins Nakamura retirement celebrations

During the press conference, there was also an appearance from former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan, who sent a message to Nakamura upon his retirement.

Strachan, who was the man to bring the midfielder to Parkhead, sent his best wishes and talked up his fantastic ability, which was on display for everyone at Paradise.

He said [Yokohama FC]: “Good day, everyone, and especially to Naka. Congratulations on an incredible career, a career I was lucky to be part of. I thank you very much for being part of that.

“A great player, in my opinion, makes people around him better or great, and Naka certainly did that with his time at Celtic. He made me a better manager.

“But anyway, thank you very much for your contribution to my career, everybody who played with you, Celtic Football club and all the clubs you played with. It’s an honour you enjoy your retirement. But please keep in the football game, you’ve got so much to offer; good luck.”

It was certainly an honour to watch Nakamura in action, and I am sure the majority of Celtic supporters will agree with Strachan’s comments.

Nakamura created plenty of special memories for the Hoops fans that will live on in a special place amongst the club’s history.

We wish him all the best of luck in retirement, and hopefully, we can see him remain in football, becoming a manager or a coach elsewhere.

Maybe before that all kicks off, we could see him make a quick return to Glasgow to catch Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side in action.

In other news, Michael Stewart sarcastically wades in on VAR’s latest Celtic nightmare.