Japanese soccer player “Shinji Okazaki”, his career and style of play

This time, I introduce the career, play style and position of Japanese second striker, winger, attacking midfielder and wide midfielder “Shinji Okazaki” who is a member of Japan national football team.

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Name:Shinji Okazaki (岡崎慎司)

Nickname : Zakioka, Okachan, Doppel-Shinji or Oka

Date of birth:April 16, 1986

Place of birth: Takarazuka(宝塚市), Hyogo(兵庫県), Japan(日本)

Height:174 cm、Weight:76  kg

Dominant foot: Right foot

Position: Centre-forward, second striker, winger, attacking midfielder and wide midfielder

Current club: Leicester City F.C. (Premier League of England)

Early career

Okazaki Born in 1986 in the Takarazuka city of Hyogo Prefecture. His mother has a career that won the tennis match in her school days, and his running ability and agility are likely to have been brought by mother genes. As well as Okazaki, Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo of Japan National Football Team were born in 1986.

He began playing soccer when he was in the second grade of elementary school because his older brother was playing it as well. 

Upon entering junior high, he played in both the junior high school soccer club and Takaraduka Junior FC. Hyogo Prefecture, who appreciated his play, chose him the representative of the province. 

The high school he entered was private Takigawa-Dai 2-high school, the football club of this school was one of the very strong teams in Japan. He became a regular player from the time of the first grader, and he played as forward with a two year older older brother. He was appointed the captain of the team at the third grade. 

In 2005 he received an offer from Vissel Kobe and Shimizu S-Pulse before graduating from high school. He decided to join Shimizu S-Pulse, a stronger, historic club.

Club carrer

Shimizu S-Pulse

After joining the club, Okazaki had a poor Sprint ability and a weak Strength, so the director’s evaluation was very bad. However, as a result of his growth he was elected the starting member for the first time in the Emperor ‘s Cup final which is a very important match. 

In the 2007 season, he increased the number of times he participated in the match as a wide midfielder, eventually he played 25 matches and scored 5 goals. 

In the 2008 season, he finally became a regular player of forward, played in 34 matchs, and scored 11 goals.

In the 2009 season, he sometimes played wide midfielder, but eventually he played 41 matches and scored 17 goals. By this success he was elected the J-League’s Best Eleven and won the Excellent Newcomer Award. He has never won the Rookie of the Year because he has had a professional career for five years already.

In the 2010 season, while crossing with the opponet player during the game, two in front teeth were injured, but in the end he played 37 matches and scored 16 goals.

VfB Stuttgart

On 30th January 2011, Okazaki signed a contract between Bundesliga VfB Stuttgart for 3 years and 6 months. However, in fact, the contract with him and Shimizu S-Pulse was until January 31, 2011, and there was a problem that the contract period with VfB Stuttgart overlapped. As a result, his debut was delayed, he eventually made a debut with Benfica against the Round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League ‘s Knockout phase held on February 17. In addition, He appeared as a wide midfielder on the left, not as a forward, with Benfica winning 2-1 in the match. The team of this season was ranked within the relegation range to the lower league, but his rich endurance and hard defense raised the team and eventually remained in the Bundesliga. Incidentally, his grade was 2 goals in 12 matches. 

During the 2011-2012 season, he often participated as a left wide midfielder. He also played 29 matches and scored 7 goals because he was not elected to be a starting member and  he was unable to participate due to injury. 

In the 2012-2013 season he was unable to score from last season and eventually he could only score 2 goals in 31 matches. 

In addition, Gotoku Sakai of Japan National Football Team belonged to this team at the same time as Okazaki. In addition, as famous players belonged to Vedad Ibišević, a striker from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1. FSV Mainz 05

On June 25, 2013, Okazaki signed a three-year contract with 1. FSV Mainz 05.  Even at this team he was playing as a left wide midfileder at the beginning, but he was playing as a lone striker since the middle of the season. He was in good condition since playing as a lone striker, with a great result of 8 goals in 16 matches  n the first half of the season. Eventually he played 35 matches in this season and scored 15 goals. This score was the largest in history among the Japanese players who played in Europe. 

In the 2014-2015 season, he also got over 10 scores. As a result he played 33 matches and scored 13 goals so that other European clubs were interested in his acquisition.

Leicester City F.C.

On June 26, 2015, some clubs were interested in Okazaki’s scoring ability, but eventually Leicester City F.C. of England Premier League signed him for four years. Leicester City’s formation was 4-4-2 and he played in second striker’s position. In order to support Jamie Vardy of Center-forward getting a score, he made the defender’s mark as close as possible to Okazaki, and pursued opponent’s ball holders persistently in defense. Because Okazaki’s abundant endurance, Riyad Mahrez’s creation of scoring chances, N’Golo Kanté’s defensive capabilities and Claudio Ranieri’s tactics interlocked, Leicester City became the first league champion in 132 years since the club was founded. In addition, Okazaki played 39 matches and scored 6 goals in this season. 

In the 2016-2017 season, he scored 2 goals against EFL Cup’s third round against Chelsea FC and earned his first score against the UEFA Champions League group stage against the Club Brugge KV. In this season he played 41 matches and scored 6 goals. 

In the 2017-2018 season, Okazaki reduced the total number of matches to 31, but he scored 7 goals.

International career

Okazaki was selected as the U – 23 Japan National Team of Football at the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing. He participated from the middle of the game against the USA and Nigeria and played as a starting member against Netherlands game in the group stage. However, he could not score and the team could not go to the knockout stage with three consecutive defeats. In addition, the Japanese team at this time was Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Kagawa, Atsuto Uchida and Maya Yoshida.

In September of the same year, he was convened to a senior team and debuted in a friendly matches against UAE held in October. The first score on the senior team was Yemen against 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualification on 20th January 2009. In addition, on June 6th 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) against Uzbekistan he took a score to bring Japan to the World Cup. 

Okazaki was selected as a Japanese member of 2010 FIFA World Cup and participated in all three games of the group stage from the middle. In the third match against Denmark he scored the third goals of the team. He also participated in the middle of the match against Paraguay in the knockout stage, but the team lost by penalties. 

He joined the Japanese members of 2011 AFC Asian Cup and achieved a hat trick in the group stage against Saudi Arabia. And furthermore, he participated in the quarter finals, semi-finals and final match of the knockout stage, and although he could not score, he contributed to Japan’s championship with a tremendous Endurance. 

On February 6, 2013, he scored 30 goals in the Japan team because he scored a goal in the friendly match against Latvia. In 2014, he was elected a Japanese member of the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil.

He participated in all three group stage stages and scored 1 goal against Colombia, but Japan could not proceed to the knockout stage. 

He was elected a Japanese member for 2015 AFC Asian Cup held in Australia. He played in a position of lone forward in a group stage against Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, and knockout stage UAE. However, he only won the game against Palestine, the team also lost in the quarterfinals. 

On March 29, 2016, Okazaki participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – AFC Second Round ‘s Syria and became the fifth player in the history of the Japan National Football Team for more than 100 games. 

On March 28, 2017 he played 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – AFC Third Round in Thailand and recorded a total of 50 goals as a Japanese team. 

Okazaki was elected Japan representative to participate in 2018 FIFA World Cup. He played in the middle of the game against Colombia and Senegal in the group stage.

style of play

First of all, please watch this video.

[ England · Premier League 2015-16 Section 33 Okazaki’s play in Leicester VS Sunderland ] 

[ Okazaki’s play at FA Community Shield in England, August 7, 2016, Leicester City v. Manchester United ] 

Okazaki’s style of play is summarized below.

・Hard defense from front area

・He is often in a position that makes it easy to score goals within penalty area.

・He is not good at assisting a teammate’s score by passing.

・He is not very good at long-distance shot, and he rarely hits.

Position

Okazaki’s position is the most popular lone striker in formation 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1 and 4-3-3. In addition, he sometimes plays with wide midfielder and winger.

Same-year players

The players of the same age of Okazaki are as follows.

Name Nationality Date of birth
David Silva Spain 1986/1/8
Kenneth Vermeer Netherlands 1986/1/10
Yohan Cabaye France 1986/1/14
Claudio Marchisio Italy 1986/1/19
José Enrique Spain 1986/1/23
Vedran Ćorluka Croatia 1986/2/5
Radamel Falcao Colombia 1986/2/10
Valeri Bojinov Bulgaria 1986/2/15
Shikabala Egypt 1986/3/5
Charlie Mulgrew Scotland 1986/3/6
František Rajtoral Czech 1986/3/12
Edin Džeko Bosnia and Herzegovina 1986/3/17
Michu Spain 1986/3/21
Manuel Neuer Germany 1986/3/27
Sergio Ramos Spain 1986/3/30
Igor Akinfeev Rossia 1986/4/8
Fernando Gago Argentine 1986/4/10
Vincent Kompany Belgium 1986/4/10
Tom Heaton England 1986/4/15
Maurice Edu America 1986/4/18
Viktor Fayzulin Rossia 1986/4/22
Jonathan Orozco Mexico 1986/5/12
Matías Fernández Argentina 1986/5/15
Mario Mandžukić Croatia 1986/5/21
Charles N’Zogbia France 1986/5/28
Chinedu Obasi Nigeria 1986/6/1
Keisuke Honda Japan 1986/6/13
Fernando Muslera Uruguay 1986/6/16
Shusaku Nishikawa Japan 1986/6/18
Hulk Brazil 1986/7/25
Oleg Ivanov Rossia 1986/8/4
Yuto Nagatomo Japan 1986/9/12
Andrés Guardado Mexico 1986/9/28
Olivier Giroud France 1986/9/30
Gabriel Agbonlahor England 1986/10/13
Kasper Schmeichel Denmark 1986/11/5
Nani Portugal 1986/11/17
Lee Peltier England 1986/12/11
Radosław Majewski Poland 1986/12/15
Ryan Babel Netherlands 1986/12/19

Summary

Okazaki is the player who has earned the most points in Japan National Football Team. However, in the formation “4-2-3-1” and “4-1-4-1” adopted by the current director, Vahid Halilhodžić, 1 = Lone striker is a regular player Yuya Osako. Okazaki is appointed as a sub lone striker or wide midfilder or wiger. In order to become a regular player he needs to be active in Leicester City more than ever. As another method, the Japanese team has adopted “4-4-2” in some cases. Because “4-4-2” is a formation adopted in Leicester, it is very familiar to Okazaki.

Yours sincerely, 

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