Former Japan defender Naoki Matsuda, 34, died in hospital on Thursday, two days after collapsing during training from a suspected heart attack.
Matsuda, who won 40 caps for Japan and represented his country at the 2002 World cup, had been placed on an artificial respirator after being brought at hospital unconscious on Tuesday.
The president of his JFL (third division) side Matsumoto Yamaga, Hiroshi Otsuki, informed the Japanese media that the club had been told Matsuda has lost his fight by the player’s family.
Former Japan coach Philippe Troussier, who gave Matsuda his international debut, said, “It’s terrible to see someone die at such a young age.”
“It’s a big shock. He was a great guy and I felt a close bond to him. My thoughts go to his family.”
The Frenchman, who led the Blue Samurai to the last 16 as co-hosts, further added, “He was a reliable and strong player and key for Japan’s World Cup side in 2002.”
“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.”
Medical personnel rushed to Matsuda’s aid early on Tuesday after he collapsed with suspected heatstroke. Yamaga afterward said the player has gone into cardio-respiratory arrest.
According to Kyodo news agency, the temperatures in Japan have caused an increase in heatstroke cases with 43 deaths in the two months in the last part of July.
Matsuda made 385 appearances for Yokohama F-Marinos, helping them win back-to-back J League titles in 2003 and 2004.