Japan's Nakamura a free kick specialist
Japanese star renowned for his near-perfect long passes and his prowess from dead-ball situations.
Born: June 24, 1978, in Kanagawa, Japan
Position: Midfielder, winger
Clubs played for: A 19-year-old Nakamura signed with Japanese side Yokohama Marinos after graduating high school in 1997 and was named J-League MVP in 2000. After the 2002 World Cup, he joined Italian club Reggina where he honed his already impressive array of offensive skills. Celtic took notice and paid Reggina $7.2 million for the Japanese in 2005. Nakamura became a fan favourite and one of the best players at the Glasgow club before joining Spanish outfit Espanyol in 2009.
International career: Nakamura made his national team debut in 2000 and helped Japan with that year's Asian Cup. Curiously, coach Philippe Troussier did not bring him to the 2002 World Cup, but Zico wasted no time in bringing him back into the fold when he took over as manager. Nakamura repaid Zico by leading Japan to victory at the 2004 Asian Cup, where he was named the tournament MVP. Nakamura was also a standout for Japan at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring four goals in six games.
Why is he so special? Nakamura is renowned for his near-perfect long passes and his prowess from dead-ball situations. The playmaker's other strength is his versatility, as he can play in midfield, just behind the main strikers, or as a winger.
His most famous moment: When he scored the winning goal from a stunning, 30-yard free kick against Manchester United on Nov. 21, 2006, to send Celtic through to the second round of the Champions League.
He said it: "(Lionel) Messi comes back from Argentina and he doesn't show fatigue for Barcelona. I have to do the same." (On wanting to play in exhibition games for Japan during the Spanish league season)
What they're saying about him: Nakamura is so good that he "could open a tin of beans with his left foot." - Steve Perryman, former Tottenham midfielder
Here's an interesting fact: Nakamura is a big baseball fan, and even though he is a left-footed soccer player, he throws and bats right-handed.