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Kawasaki's Nakamura to retire at end of season

FILE PHOTO: Kawasaki Frontale's Nakamura Kengo (R) celebrates scoring against the Central Coast Mariners as team mate Juninho runs behind during their AFC Champions League Group H match at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, April 8, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Kengo Nakamura has said he will retire at the end of the season in Japan.

Nakamura, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday by scoring the winner for Kawasaki against FC Tokyo, was a member of Japan’s squad at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and played 68 times for the ‘Samurai Blue’.

The midfielder has won two J-League titles with Kawasaki and is on track to add a third with his club 17 points clear with nine games remaining.

Nakamura’s season has been hampered by a knee injury he sustained last year and he has played just five times in the current campaign, but he said fitness was not the reason he had decided to hang up his boots.

“The decision (to retire) has nothing to do with the injury,” he told an online conference.

“I want to play in games until the end, enjoying my remaining days and not wasting any of them.”

Nakamura was named the J-League’s Player of the Year in 2016 before winning the first of back-to-back league titles the following year.

Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford