Former Japan star Nakayama retires

Former Japan striker Masashi Nakayama, who scored the country's first ever FIFA World Cup goal, says he is retiring as he can no longer push his body to the limit at the age of 45.

"When I wish to play at certain levels, my body won't respond to it," he told a news conference in Sapporo, home to his J.League club Consadole Sapporo, citing injuries to his both knees.

"With recurring pain, I cannot stand on the stage to fight," said Nakayama, who said he will not be playing next season.

He is the J.League's all-time leading scorer with 157 goals, which were affectionately dubbed 'Gon-Goals' after his nickname, 'Gon'.

The J.League season ended with Consadole relegated after finishing at the bottom of the 18-team first division.

Nakayama started in all three of Japan's group matches at its FIFA World Cup finals debut in France in 1998.

The team failed to win any of its games and Nakayama scored its lone goal in the competition, in a 2-1 defeat by Jamaica.

The striker broke his leg in a clash with a Jamaican player soon after his 74th-minute goal, but continued playing until the end of the match.

Nakayama, who also played in the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, scored 21 goals in 53 international matches between 1990 and 2003.

He holds the world record for the fastest hat-trick at international level - he scored three goals in an Asian Cup qualifier against Brunei in 2000 in three minutes and three seconds.

He also pulled four hat-tricks in four successive J.League games in 1998, another feat recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Source AFP