Ex-Japan international footballer Matsuda dies

04 August 2011 07:30

Former Japan international defender Naoki Matsuda has died, his club said, two days after collapsing with a heart attack during training.

His death aged 34 was announced on Thursday by his club Matsumoto Yamaga of the Japan Football League, the country's third-tier division, where he moved from J-League first-division Yokohama Marinos at the start of this year.

Matsuda fell into a coma after a warm-up run in training in Matsumoto on Tuesday morning. He was rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a cardiopulmonary arrest and put on life support.

While he fought for his life, the nation prayed for the gutsy defender, with his present and former team-mates and fans flocking to the hospital in the mountain city 180 kilometres (110 miles) northwest of Tokyo.

The tragedy has shocked the Japanese football world, which had been in a celebratory mood after the women's team won the World Cup for the first time a little more than two weeks ago.

Matsuda was capped 40 times by Japan and played all four matches as a right back at the 2002 World Cup, when the Blue Samurai reached the last 16 at home.

But his international career ended in 2005 when he fell out with then national coach and Brazilian legend Zico.

Source: AFP