Maya Yoshida, born on August 24, 1988, is a professional soccer player from Nagasaki city, Nagasaki prefecture. Presently, he is playing as center back for Southampton F.C. in English Premier League.
While he was an elementary school student, his parents took him on a trip to Nagoya where he tried out for the Nagoya Grampus Youth club. Much to his and his family’s surprise, he passed the trials and his family moved to Miyoshi city in Aichi prefecture.
As he commuted to his nearby high school, he was also playing for the Grampus youth team. In the 2006 Prince Takamado Cup (U-18), he helped his team win 2nd place, after which he was invited to the U18 Japan national team.
In 2007, he promoted to the top team. There he was converted to a center back, since that section was left weak after the veterans left the team. In his first year, he appeared in 19 matches.
In the following year, in 2008, he earned the trust of the new manager, Dragan Stojkovic, and thus secured a regular spot as the center back. He participated in 22 matches, and in the 22nd match versus Kashima Antlers, he scored his first goal.
Meanwhile, Yoshida was also selected for the U-23 Japan national team for the Beijing Olympics, where in the group stages against Netherlands, he was an even match to Roy Makaay.
In 2009, he was invited to the adult national team for the first time, and after the end of the season, he transfer to Netherlands VVV-Venlo. In his first season in the Netherlands was ruined because of injuries, but in the 2011-12 season, he appeared in 32 matches and scored 5 goals, which made his the 2nd best scorer, helping his team stay in Eredivisie’s first division.
In September, 2012, he was chosen for the London Olympics in the U-23 Japan national team as an over-age player. In the tournament he carried his team as their captain and the team’s key defender. In quarter finals match against Egypt, he scored from a set play, however, they had to leave without a medal after losing in both the semifinals versus Mexico and in the 3rd place match against South Korea.
After the Olympics, he transferred to England’s Premier League team Southampton F.C. He secured a regular spot as the center back, which was his bread- and-butter, and appeared in 32 matches in his first year in the new team. In the match against Manchester United, he was in the starting lineup against Shinji Kagawa. It was the first ever showdown between two Japanese players in the Premier League.
However, in the middle of the following 2013-14 season, he damaged his ligament and had to take time off from soccer. In the following season, both the talented new recruits and fatal mistake that directly resulted in a lost point, took away his position and thus his opportunities to appear in matches gradually decreased.
Despite his blunder, when Yoshida did receive chances to play, he showed good results, once again earning the trust of his manager and teammates and taking back his spot as a regular.
In the 2016-17 season’s 35th match against Hull City A.F.C., he became the first Japanese player to appear in 100 Premier League matches. Since his contract with Southampton F.C. was extended to 2020, people are hoping to see him perform well in the Premier League and in the Japan national team.