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Naohiro Takahara has been named Japan’s 2002 player of the year.

The striker, who now plays in the Bundesliga for Hamburg, won despite missing the World Cup after suffering deep vein thrombosis prior to the start of the competition.

But the 23-year-old scored 26 goals in 27 games for J-League side Jubilo Iwata last season. And his first goal for Hamburg ended Oliver Kahn’s record 802 minutes without conceding a goal.

Takahara – the J-Leagues top scorer and most valuable player – polled a massive 170 of the 258 votes cast.

Fulham’s Junichi Inamoto was runner-up and Parma’s Hidetoshi Nakata and home based player Keisuke Tsuboi were joint third.

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