Yasuhito Endo will be counted on to anchor Japan's midfield at the World Cup. ((Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images) )

Yasuhito Endo

Born: Jan. 28, 1980, in Kagoshima City, Japan

Position: Midfielder

Clubs Played for: Yasuhito Endo spent the early part of his career with Yokohama Flugels and Kyoto Purple Sanga until 2001 when he signed with Gamba Osaka. The 30-year-old has spent nearly 10 years with and played nearly 300 games for the J-League powerhouse and has won J-League, J-League Cup and AFC Champions League titles.

International career: Around the same time Endo moved to Gamba Osaka he also become Japan's first-choice central midfielder. Although he did not play in the 2002 World Cup in Japan, Endo has made 85 appearances for the Blue Samurai, including games in the 2004 Asian Cup, 2007 Asian Cup and 2006 World Cup. Endo was named the 2009 Asian Player of the Year.

Why is he so special? Many might assume Shinsuke Nakamura is Japan's midfield general but Endo often pulls the strings on both the offence and defence. As a holding midfielder, Endo is the sentry that makes sure opponents get so far but no further. He is renowned for his patience when standing up against an attacker and is always well-positioned to win the ball and ignite the offence with an intelligent stroke of the ball.

His most famous moment: Endo scored two goals in the 2008 Club World Cup. His first was a lone strike in a 1-0 quarter-final win over Adelaide United and the other was a consolation penalty in a 5-3 goal fest against Manchester United.

He said it: "[Before the World Cup] I will work harder to play better football with the top of my priority list being to do well with the national team. We are all aware what the World Cup means for us so we will try to overcome all difficulties to live up to the expectations."

What they're saying about him: "He [Endo] is their [Gamba Osaka] star player," Sir Alex Ferguon, Manchester United manager 

Here is an interesting fact: Endo shares Japan's free-kick and penalty-taking duties with Nakamura.