BOLTON'S WORLD CUP MEMORIES: Hidetoshi Nakata
Updated 10:16pm Wednesday 18th June 2014 in Sport
JAPAN legend Hidetoshi Nakata is one of the most experienced World Cup players to have played for Wanderers.
The midfielder played in three successive finals between 1998 and 2006, enjoying by far the most success in his home country in 2002. He was only at Wanderers for one season in 2005, on loan from Italian side Fiorentina.
But the playmaker made a big impression at the Reebok with 32 appearances.
His first taste of the World Cup finals came as a 21-year-old in 1998 in France.
His place at the tournament was guaranteed after scoring a hat-trick in the qualification play-off victory over Iran.
However, in the finals, Nakata’s side finished bottom after defeats to Argentina, Croatia and Jamaica.
As hosts in 2002 Japan topped their group as champions.
The midfielder started every game, scoring the opener in a victory over Tunisia and playing a major part in the win over Russia and draw with Belgium.
Japan were eliminated at the last 16 stage with a 1-0 defeat to eventual third-place finishers Turkey.
The 2006 World Cup in Germany resembled 1998 for Japan as they finished with one point after defeats to Australia and Brazil and a goalless draw with Croatia. In 77 international appearances Nakata scored 11 goals before calling time on his career in 2006.
During his brief spell at Wanderers he scored one goal – a free-kick against West Brom – and received a red card after 33 minutes in a derby match against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park which finished goalless.
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