It has always struck me as a very Japanese phrase, I couldn’t imagine saying anything like it in my country. Anyway, it seems very appropriate for two retiring stalwarts on Sunday.

Toshihiro Hattori

Gifu’s skipper plays his final game safe in the knowledge that he helped keep Gifu in the J.League. A very unassuming character, he probably hates all the attention being given to him, but he deserves it. Apparently (I don’t have the stats to hand) Sunday will be his 599th senior  appearance, so he will be retiring one game shy of 600. Still, 599 games is not a bad return for a 20 year career.

In his retirement press conference he said that during the summer he felt his body straining in the intense heat and that he was taking a long time to recover. He also said he tried to keep himself in good condition, but he felt that the other players were having to give a bit extra to help him out. A class act to the end, what price a Hattori penalty to round of his illustrious career?

*A fuller piece on Hattori has been done here

Hideaki Kitajima

The ex-Kashiwa Reysol star is bowing out at the tender age of 35, and will pull on his boots for the final time against Vissel Kobe on Sunday. His goalscoring exploits have slowed over the past two seasons in Kumamoto, scoring just three goals in a season and a half in horse country but, like Hattori, he can leave the club & the game knowing that he helped keep Roasso in the J.League despite it looking pretty hairy at times this season.

Kitajima started his career at Kashiwa Reysol, making a name for himself in his golden period between 1999-2001. After spending three years at S-Pulse, he answered Reysol’s distress call after they were relegated in 2005. “Kitaji”, as he is affectionately known, helped Kashiwa get back into J1 at the first time of asking. He then went on to spend the next five-and-a-half years at Hitachidai before moving to Kumamoto in the summer of 2012.

In Kitajima’s presser, he said he decided to retire after the Roasso-Gifu game in July (a game in which Hirofumi Moriyasu scored a late equalizer for Gifu) because he felt his knee couldn’t hold up to much more physical exertion. It is to be noted that Kitajima suffered a serious knee injury while at S-Pulse, and he feels that the operations have caught up with him.

In another act of high class, Kitajima has posted messages on Kashiwa & Shimizu’s official websites thanking them for the opportunity they gave him.

It is always sad to see players like these leave the game, but their last games should be a celebration of their achievements in the game. Hopefully they will both be substituted near the end of their games so they can get the reception they thoroughly deserve.