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Nakata, MLS would make a good team

25 Jun 2007(Mon)

June 22, 2007: Without saying a word, Hidetoshi Nakata is back in the news, less than a year after his retirement.

During a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday, national coach Ivica Osim said the door was open for Nakata to return to the team should he end his retirement and join a club.

So what are the chances of a Nakata comeback?

Having followed his career closely since seeing him play for Japan in the Asian Youth Under-19 Championship in Jakarta in 1994, I would not rule out a Nakata return at all.

In fact, on several occasions while reading all the Beckham-for-Galaxy stories, I have thought the United States and Major League Soccer would be the perfect place for Nakata to reinvent himself. He is the Asian Beckham after all, and a Nakata comeback in America would provide another massive impetus to the game over there.

As in the case of Beckham, all parties would win substantially.

I honestly think a Nakata comeback in MLS is a possibility, as he is still only 30 and would have three or four more years left in him, at least through to the 2010 World Cup.

I saw a few highlights from the Figo match the other week, and Nakata, now with long hair, reminded me of his early days with Bellmare Hiratsuka.

He looked far too young to have given up the game, and being back in that kind of football environment may have rekindled the fire and interest he had lost.

Also, it might be as simple as this: he might be bored after his year on the road and want some roots again. And where better than the States, in a growing league and where he would enjoy celebrity status.

America and its youth/pop culture would appeal to Nakata, and also enable him to increase his profile in this vast market -- perfect for when he decides to open his chain of swish (not Swiss) restaurants in the world's major cities -- Tokyo, New York, Paris, London, Rome, Milan...

Menu, decor, furniture, clothing, merchandise...a Nakata fusion from around the world.

I am sure this is his destiny!


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