The Japan home shirt 1998 can be regarded as the most classic and the best known one shirt in all Japan football shirts. It was designed and manufactured by a Japanese brand ASICS and worn by national team players at that time in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where Japan national team eventually reached the final of the World Cup for the first time. Although Adidas and PUMA had designed the shirt, the Japan national team finally chose ASICS, a Japanese multinational corporation, which mainly produces footwear and sports equipment. The name “ASICS” means “Healthy soul in a healthy body”, showing the design concept.
The most eye-catching detail of this 1998 home shirt is the big flame pattern on sleeves. The flame symbolizes Aryaacalanatha, a wisdom king of Buddhism. Before this shirt, Japan national team players also wore a football match jersey with the pattern in the 1996 Olympic Games. It was a miracle for Japan that players defeated Brazil national team at the Atlanta Olympics.
The blue home shirt is particularly memorable. It features a retro white collar in contrast to the main color. The logo of the team is printed on left chest while “asics” is on the right.
Japan national team has been qualified for five World Cups since 1998. It has become one of the most successful national teams in Asia. The squad had reached the semifinals both in the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.
Masashi Nakayama, born on 23 September 1967, is a retired Japanese football player. At the age of 45, Nakayama, as a professional football player, hung up his boots in December 2012. It was he who helped Japan national team score the first World Cup gaol in the 1998 World Cup. Nakayama scored by hat-tricks in four successive games of J1 League in April 1998, and totally scored 16 goals, which is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1998, he was named J. League Most Valuable Player, J. League Top Scorer, J. League Best Eleven and Japanese Footballer of the Year. Besides, he was selected to AFC All Star Team in 1999.
Nakayama is Japanese football fans’ favorite footballer for his outspoken and humorous nature. In a match, his teammate Hideto Suzuki shouted at the referee that “You are so silly” because he was dissatisfied with result. The referee was about to give him a yellow card, but Nakayama immediately rushed there and bowed down to the referee, saying:“I’m really a fool.” His performance even amused the referee, and eventually Suzuki didn’t receive the yellow card.
Nakayama was asked by female fans how he could score so easily after a match. He was very satisfied with his performances, so he raised his right hand as if there was a flame burning behind him and said:“That’s because I’m a burning universe.” However, his actions scared the fans and he explained quickly in an honest manner, “It was because I had seriously watched the ball before I shoot.”