Asia-Pacific

Japan World Cup star Naoki Matsuda dies at 34

Naoki Matsuda of Japan in action during the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Group H match between Japan and Tunisia played at the Osaka-Nagai Stadium, in Osaka, Japan on June 14, 2002
Image caption Naoki Matsuda won 40 caps for his country

Japanese footballer Naoki Matsuda has died two days after he collapsed on the training pitch with a suspected heart attack.

The 34-year-old, who represented Japan at the 2002 World Cup, was rushed to hospital on Tuesday.

He collapsed during a training session with his club, Matsumoto Yamaga, and never regained consciousness.

Former Japan manager Philippe Troussier paid tribute to the defender, saying he was a key member of the World Cup team.

"It's terrible to see someone die at such a young age," Mr Troussier told Reuters news agency.

"It's a big shock. He was a great guy and I felt a close bond to him. My thoughts go to his family."

Fans, friends and former players had gathered at the hospital in Matsumoto to wish the player well.

Matsuda played 40 times for Japan, and won two J-League titles during 15 years with the Yokohama F-Marinos.

He moved to lower league Matsumoto earlier this year.