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Soccer: Retiring J1 record scorer Okubo eyes trophy as career bookend

Cerezo Osaka's Yoshito Okubo, the career scoring leader in Japanese pro soccer's J-League first division, tears up during his retirement press conference in Osaka on Nov. 22, 2021. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former Japan forward Yoshito Okubo, the J-League top flight's career scoring leader, said Monday he wants to end his 21-year professional career this year with his first domestic trophy.

    The 39-year-old has two remaining games to add to his record 191 J1 goals, while his club, Cerezo Osaka, have booked a spot in the Emperor's Cup semifinals.

    "I've always thought I wanted to walk away when I could still move around and with people saying I can still play. And now is the time," Okubo told a press conference.

    "This is the last chance so I want to get to the final of the Emperor's Cup and celebrate by winning."

    The Fukuoka Prefecture native began his career at Cerezo in 2001 and had spells at Mallorca and Wolfsburg, with whom he won the German Bundesliga in 2009, before leading the J1 in scoring from 2013 to 2015 with Kawasaki Frontale.

    Okubo, known for his aggressive playing style, also helped Japan reach the knockout phase at the 2010 World Cup and played in the 2014 tournament. He has six goals in 60 national team games.

    "I played a bit rough but I have no regrets at all, but I'm totally different in daily life," he said. "I had lots of things said to me but I can be proud that I've done well and I'm happy now I can end my football career without regrets."

    "I hate to lose when playing football so I feel sticking to that stance reflected who I am," he added when questioned about the number of times he has been sent off.

    Okubo also played for Vissel Kobe, FC Tokyo, Jubilo Iwata and Tokyo Verdy. He has netted six times in 27 games in the J1 this term in his return to Cerezo, but is unlikely to reach his 200-goal ambition.

    "I wanted to reach the figure but I might have lacked that ability," he said.

    "I'll rest and take my time (thinking about my future). I need to pass on my experience, I want to learn about and study football but I have many things I want to try. For now, I want to break 90 on the golf course."

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