March 3, 2017 / 12:35 AM / in 9 months

Podolski to join Japan's Vissel Kobe in June

TOKYO (Reuters) - World Cup winning German striker Lukas Podolski announced he will be joining Japanese club Vissel Kobe from Galatasaray at the end of the Turkish season.

Football Soccer - Germany v France - EURO 2016 - Semi Final - Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France - 7/7/16 Germany's Lukas Podolski before the game REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach Livepic -

The 31-year-old former Bayern Munich and Arsenal forward brought down the curtain on his 12-year international career last August, having played 129 matches and scored 48 goals for Germany.

“I can confirm that at the end of this season I will join Vissel Kobe from the J-League in Japan,” Podolski wrote on his Instagram page.

“It’s not a decision against Galatasaray, it’s a decision I made for a new challenge, and I will explain more when the time is right.”

While Chinese clubs has been spending huge amounts of money to lure top footballing talent to their Super League, Podolski is a rare high-profile foreign signing for a J League club.

Vissel Kobe, owned by online retailing giant Rakuten, finished runners-up in the second stage of the J League last year but failed to make it to the championship phase.

“We are very excited to have a world-class striker join the Vissel Kobe team,” Rakuten co-founder Hiroshi Mikitani said in a news release.

“We have very high expectations of Podolski’s ability to take the Vissel Kobe team to victory in the J League.”

The current Turkish championship campaign runs until the end of May. The 2017 J League season started last weekend.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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