Former Japan International Naoki Matsuda Passes Away At Age 34

OSAKA - JUNE 14: (FILE PHOTO) Naoki Matsuda of Japan in action during the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Group H match between Japan and Tunisia played at the Osaka-Nagai Stadium, in Osaka, Japan on June 14, 2002. Japan won the match 2-0. Former Japanese football player Noali Matsuda has died after suffering a suspected heart attack during a training session with Matsumoto Yamaga. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Former Japan defender Naoki Matsuda passed away at age 34 on Thursday of a heart attack, two days after collapsing of a suspected heatstroke

Former Japan international Naoki Matsuda has passed away, two days after being admitted into a hospital for a suspected heart attack. Marsuda collapsed during training of a suspected heatstroke and was unconscious by the time he reached the hospital. He was 34 years old.

Matsuda joined third division Matsumoto Yamaga this season after 16 years with Yokohama Marinos. He earned 40 caps for Japan, including the 2002 World Cup where he earned accolades as one of the team's most reliable defenders.

"He passed away today at 1:06 p.m.," Yamaga president Hiroshi Otsuki said Thursday. "Since Tuesday there has been an outpouring of support from Matsuda fans all over Japan." 

Temperatures in Japan soared in June and July, reaching record highs at times. Matsuda had just finished a 15 minute run during training on Tuesday when he fell to the turf. The team medics rushed to him, but he had already gone into cardio-respiratory arrest.

"It's terrible to see someone die at such a young age," former Japan coach Philippe Troussier told Reuters. "It's a big shock. He was a great guy and I felt a close bond to him. My thoughts go to his family.

"He was a reliable and strong player and key for Japan's World Cup side in 2002," added the Frenchman, who led the Blue Samurai to the last 16 as co-hosts. "It's bad news for Japanese football. We'd all hoped of course he would pull through. To see someone taken away doing something they love, so suddenly, at 34 is tragic. It's awful news."

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