King Akihiro & Kenji Thank Fans With Memorial Game
Two of the longest serving Japanese players bid goodbye to competitive football after spending 10years playing in the S.League respectively. 36yrs old Akihiro Nakamura and 35yrs old Kenji Arai held a memorial game which saw
Two of the longest serving Japanese players bid goodbye to competitive football after spending 10years playing in the S.League respectively. 36yrs old Akihiro Nakamura and 35yrs old Kenji Arai held a memorial game which saw many of their former team mates, including those who are currently playing overseas, flying in from all over the world just to show their support and appreciation for the duo.
Among the big names gracing the occasion, there were Soma Takahito (Vissel Kobe, Japan), Shibamura Naoya (FC Buxoro, Uzbekistan), Fukui Masato (FC Sutjeska Nikšić, Montenegro), Murakami Norikazu (Alemannia Aachen, Germany), Izumi Arata (Pune, India/India International), Issey Nakajima Farran (Alki Larnaca, Cyprus/Canada International) and many more. Local players presented included Zahid Ahmad, John Wilkinson (both Tanjong Pagar Utd), Aliff Shafaein (Home Utd), Shimono Atsushi (Woodlands Wellington), Lionel Lewis (former Home Utd) and Tan Sio Beng (former Hougang Utd).
The memorial game was held last Sunday at Nanyang Junior College. Although it was a memorial game for Akihiro, also famously known as KING-AKI among the Japanese community in Singapore, and Kenji, the game was no less competitive as compared to a regular S.League game. The supporters were treated to a brilliant football game which displayed top notch one-touch football and goals! And obviously the support from the local and Japanese community at the venue were overwhelming!
Both Akihiro and Kenji have played many years in Singapore and nothing could beat the idea of having a memorial game to thank all supporters. “It’s certainly a tough challenge for many players, especially overseas players, to take time off from their hectic schedule to join us for this game in Singapore. Both Kenji and I have been planning for this game since July and we really appreciate the support which we have received today, “ said Akihiro.
The memorial game ended with bouquet of flowers, food and plenty of photo-takings and autograph sessions at the pitch side. When Junpiter Futbol finally caught up with Akihiro and Kenji, the duo looked tired but satisfied. However, the interview was not short of any emotional expression. When both of them were asked what were the worst and best memory of their career here in Singapore, both answered only after a deep long thought. That question probably touched their hearts.
“My worst memory has to be the near career-threatening ankle injury which I have sustained while playing for Albirex Niigata Singapore in 2004. And the best has to be the years which I have spent with Tampines Rovers where we won the S.League title in year 2011, “ said Akihiro.
“Similar to Aki-san, the worst of my career was the knee injury which I had last year while playing against Chonburi in the AFC Cup. That prompted me to hang up my boots. The best is no secret, the years I spent at SAFFC (now Warriors FC) where we won 4 consecutive league titles and 2 Cups!”
Akihiro and Kenji also expressed their interests to contribute to Singapore’s football. As far as football development is concerned, Akihiro will continue with his involvement with Global Football Academy here in Singapore while Kenji will return to Japan and continue with his involvement with Fly High Soccer School which he has established earlier. We wish the duo all the best of luck in their coaching career and hope to see them again in the near future.
Special thanks to Akihiro Nakamura & Kenji Arai for the special invitation.