Shinji Ono (44-Japan) has ended a 32-year career that began in junior high school soccer.
His club, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, held a retirement ceremony on Dec. 3 at home against Urawa Reds in the final match of the 2023 Japan Professional Soccer J1 League.
A video sent by Robin van Persie (40, Netherlands), who won back-to-back English Premier League (EPL) scoring titles in 2012 and 2013, was played on the big screen at Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo’s home stadium.레모나토토 도메인
Shinji Ono is overcome with emotion as he holds a bouquet of flowers he received during his retirement ceremony after the final home match of the 2023 Japan Professional Soccer J1 League. Photo via Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo official SNS
Shinji Ono played 58 games and 2999 minutes with Robin van Persie at Feyenoord (Netherlands) from 2002-2004, including cup competitions. In those appearances, Ono scored six goals and added 11 assists, while Van Persie scored 16 goals and added six assists.
At the time, the Netherlands was ranked 7th or 8th in the UEFA rankings. Feyenoord, with Robin van Persie and Shinji Ono, was a powerhouse that had risen and fallen between 22nd and 26th in the European club rankings, including winning the 2001-02 UEFA Cup.
Robin van Persie said: “First of all, congratulations on an amazing and wonderful career that lasted until the age of 44. It’s been a tough one. I still think of Feyenoord’s Shinji Ono and it always makes me smile and laugh. His skills were amazing and he was my role model as a technician.”
Shinji Ono was at the peak of his career in 2003-04, his final year with Robin van Persie, when he finished third in the Dutch Eredivisie (top flight) in assists per 90 minutes, seventh in shots on target and seventh in assists.
Robin van Persie said: “It’s an honor to play on the same pitch. Everyone, Shinji Ono is a great player and a wonderful man. I think many people around the world would agree with me. I wish him the best in his second life and hope he enjoys his family.”
Shinji Ono was a highly touted prospect who won the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Young Player Award and Youth Championship MVP in 1998, as well as the J-League Rookie of the Year and Best 11.
He was also named Best 11 at the 1999 FIFA Youth World Cup, 2002 Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year, and a J-League 30th Anniversary All-Star.