Shinji Ono, born in September 27th 1979, is a professional soccer player from Shizuoka prefecture Numazu city. So far he has played in Japan’s J. League and for clubs in Netherlands, Germany and Australia. He can be called a pioneer of playing on foreign teams like his equals Hidetoshi Nakata and Shunsuke Nakamura. Presently he is playing for the Cosadole Sapporo and continues to lead the team with his champion-like skills.
Ever since he was a child, he was called a genius in his home town. In 1993 when he was 13 years old, he was chosen for the first time to play for Japan’s U-16 national team
and from that point onward he became the main player for the national team at every age level. When he entered Shizuoka’s Shimizu Commercial High School, known as the “Soccer Kingdom“, his magnificent play got noticed by professional scouts. He was showered by offers from 13 clubs and he settled on the Urawa Reds.
During his debut season with the Reds on their second match vs the Yokohama Flugels he scored his first professional league goal and all together raked in 9 points that year, earning him the Rookie of the Year award and the Best XI title. Ono suffered injuries and experienced the team’s relegation to J2, but led the Reds as their star player and youngest captain in club history for 4 seasons. From the 2001-2002 season he decided to move to the veteran Dutch team Feyenoord Rotterdam.
After joining Feyenoord he soon established himself as a starting player and in the UEFA Cup final they beat Borussia Dortmund to become champions. This was Ono’s first major title on the new team. During his time in Netherlands he often had to miss matches due to injuries, but he proved that he has the technique and passing sense to make world class plays happen. As a result, in 2003 he received the award for Best Player of the Year for his performance in 2002 from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
When he returned to the Urasawa Reds in 2006 he led the charge and contributed to winning the Emperor’s Cup. After that he played in teams like VfL Bochum, Shimizu S-Pulse, Western Sydney Wanderers FC and from 2014 he has been with Consadole Sapporo.
As a representative of Japan, he is the only Japanese who has appeared in FIFA’s world tournaments and all of the UEFA Club international competitions. In the 1999 FIFA World Cup Youth, held in Nigeria, he helped the team make it to the semi-finals as captain and he also played in 3 World Cups in a row starting from the 1998 France tournament.