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[ODDS and EVENS] Makoto Hasebe, 40, Leaves Big Impact on the German Bundesliga

Former Samurai Blue captain Makoto Hasebe spent the bulk of his pro soccer career in Germany, earning the respect of his peers along the way.



Makoto Hasebe
Eintracht Frankfurt's Makoto Hasebe (left) competes against a Stuttgart player in a German Bundesliga match on April 13, 2024, in Stuttgart, Germany. (KYODO)

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Makoto Hasebe has had a noteworthy professional soccer career, in part due to his longevity as a player. But perhaps even more for his durability and consistency.

Season after season, especially during the bulk of his career in the German Bundesliga (since 2008), the Shizuoka Prefecture native had a rock-solid presence in the lineup as a center back or defensive midfielder. After stints with VfL Wolfsburg (2008-13) and FC Nurnberg (2013-14), Hasebe became a fixture in the Eintracht Frankfurt lineup when he joined the squad before the 2014-15 campaign.

In addition, he had a long stint as the Japan national team captain (2010-18), an indication that a string of Samurai Blue managers (Alberto Zaccheroni, Javier Aguirre, Vahid Halilhodzic and Akira Nishino) valued his leadership skills on and off the field. He appeared in three FIFA World Cups in that span and earned 114 caps with the national team.

Makoto Hasebe
Japan's Makoto Hasebe plays against Denmark in a 2010 FIFA World Cup match in Rustenburg, South Africa. (KYODO)

Hasebe also appeared in 20 or more Bundesliga matches in each of his first seven seasons with Eintracht.

Now 40 ― he celebrated his birthday on January 18 ― Hasebe said he's ready to begin the next chapter of his life. On Wednesday, April 17, he revealed this will be his final season as a player. Eintracht will play their final Bundesliga match on May 18 against RB Leipzig.

He's played the sixth-most matches (383) in the history of the German Bundesliga.

Makoto Hasebe
Makoto Hasebe (KYODO)

Makoto Hasebe Makes a Formal Retirement Announcement

"I will retire from football at the end of this season," Hasebe was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday. "I'm announcing that today because I want to concentrate on the run-in [to the season's end] with the team.

"We really want to secure sixth place and I'm looking forward to watching Eintracht in European action from the couch next season, or traveling with the great fans and watching the games from the stands."

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven