Japan’s Premier League winner Okazaki to retire: reports

TOKYO – Former Japan international Shinji Okazaki (picture), who won the Premier League with Leicester City in 2016, is to announce he will retire at the end of the season, Japanese media reported Monday.

The hard-working forward played a key role as the Foxes upset the odds to win their first league title under Claudio Ranieri, making 36 Premier League appearances and scoring five goals in the 2015-16 season.

He scored a spectacular overhead winner against Newcastle to put Leicester five points clear at the top of the table with eight games remaining.

Ranieri said the following season that Okazaki was “important for the team because he presses a lot”.

“He is our ‘dilly-ding, dilly-dong’,” said the Italian. “He wakes up our players — he has the bell.”

The 37-year-old Okazaki also finished as Japan’s all-time third-highest scorer with 50 goals in 119 appearances.

He played at three World Cups and was part of the Japan team that won the Asian Cup in 2011.

He is currently at Belgian side Sint-Truiden, after playing for several Spanish clubs following his Leicester exit in 2019.

He began his career with J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse and played in Germany with Stuttgart and Mainz before joining Leicester in 2015. — AFP