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Wednesday, 3rd August 2011
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Japanese footballer battling for life after collapsing in training

A Japanese footballer, who has previously played for the national team, collapsed during training yesterday and is now in a stable but "extremely critical" situation in hospital.

Naoki Matsuda, who played for the Samurai Blue during the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, collapsed early yesterday morning (August 2nd) while training with his new team Matsumoto Yamaga.

It was initially believed that the left-back fainted due to heatstroke, but his team has recently revealed that he went into cardio-respiratory arrest on the field.

Matsuda was rushed to the intensive care unit of a Japanese hospital after the suspected heart attack and is on an artificial respirator.

The 34-year-old Matsuda has recently joined Matsumoto Yamaga, after spending the vast majority of his career at Yokohama F Marinos, playing over 500 games for the team.

Tributes and hopes of a full recovery have come flooding in from Japanese footballers past and present, with former national captain Yuji Nakazawa - who played with Matsuda at Yokohama F Marinos - telling Sankei Sports of his shock.

"I can't believe it," he said when he was told of the news. "I had only heard he fainted. I hope he recovers consciousness quickly and we can hear his voice again soon."

Shunsuke Nakamura, another teammate of Matsuda's, rushed to hospital to see the player. He told Nikkan Sports newspaper that he had not heard any details by "saw him and believe[s] he will recover".

Footballers, despite being very fit individuals, are unfortunately not immune to heart disease. In June 2003, Manchester City and Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe died while on international duty due to a cardiac condition.

In 2007, Spanish footballer Antonio Puerta died on the pitch after suffering a heart attack at 22 years old in the first game of the season for Sevilla.

Written by Mark Smith