Former Japan international Naoki Matsuda dies

Former Japan international soccer player Naoki Matsuda died

Thursday, two days after suffering a cardiac arrest during

training.

The 34-year-old Matsuda had been in critical condition after

collapsing Tuesday during practice with his club, Matsumoto

Yamaga.

”He passed away today at 1:06 p.m.,” Yamaga president Hiroshi

Otsuki said. ”Since Tuesday there has been an outpouring of

support from Matsuda fans all over Japan.”

Matsuda played 40 times for Japan, including at the 2002 World

Cup in Japan and South Korea. He also played 385 J-League games for

the Yokohama F Marinos from 1995-2010, helping the team to three

league titles.

”It’s a huge shock,” former Japan captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto

said. ”I will always remember playing along side him at the 2002

World Cup. He was a great teammate.”

Matsuda collapsed after a 15-minute training run on Tuesday.

After an initial diagnosis of heat stroke, he was later confirmed

to have had a cardiac arrest. He was unconscious when he arrived at

the hospital and showed no response to heart massage.

”I never got to know Matsuda directly but knew what a great

player he was having watched him in the J-League last year,” Japan

coach Alberto Zaccheroni said.

Matsuda joined third-tier club Matsumoto Yamaga this year after

spending his entire J-League career with Yokohama.

Matsuda’s death is the latest concern for soccer

authorities.

In 2003, Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed and

died while playing at the Confederations Cup in France. A year

later, Hungary striker Miklos Feher died from a heart attack while

playing for Benfica in the Portuguese league, and Sevilla defender

Antonio Puerta died in 2007 after a heart attack during a Spanish

league match.